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Staff of The WPI JOURNAL: Edi- 
tor, Kenneth L. McDonnell • 
Alumni Information Editor, Ruth S. 

Alumni Publications Committee: 
Samuel Mencow '37 , chairman 

• Paul J. Cleary 71 • William J. 
Firla, Jr. '60 • Carl A. Keyser '39 

• Robert C. Labonte '54 • Mau- 
reen Sexton Horgan '83. 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148- 
6128) is published quarterly for 
the WPI Alumni Association by 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Mag- 
azine Consortium, with editorial 
offices at the Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages l-XVI are published for the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium 
[Franklin and Marshall College, 
Hartwick College, Johns Hopkins 
University, Villanova University, 
Western Maryland College, West- 
ern Reserve College (Case West- 
ern Reserve University), Worces- 
ter Polytechnic Institute] and 
appear in the respective alumni 
magazines of those institutions. 
Second class postage paid at 
Worcester, MA, and additional 
mailing offices. Pages 1-14, 31- 
44 e 1987, Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute. Pages l-XVI ® 1987, 
Johns Hopkins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Editor, Donna Shoe- 
maker • Wrap Designer and Pro- 
duction Coordinator, Amy Doudi- 
ken Wells • Assistant Editor, Julia 
Ridgely • Core Designers, Allen 
Carroll and Amy Doudiken Wells. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium: Franklin 
and Marshall College, Linda 
Whipple and Patti Lawson • 
• Johns Hopkins University, 
B.J. Norris and Elise Hancock • 
Villanova University, Eugene J. 
Ruane and D.M. Howe • Western 
Maryland College, Joyce Muller 
and Sherri Kimmel Diegel • West- 
ern Reserve College, David C. 
Twining • Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute, Michael Dorsey and 
Kenneth L. McDonnell. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, 
BG Composition, Inc.; Printing, 
American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of pub- 
lic interest are presented in the 
magazine. These views do not 
necessarily reflect the opinions of 
the editors or official policies of 
WPI. Address correspondence to 
the Editor, The WPI Journal, Wor- 
cester Polytechnic Institute, Wor- 
cester, MA 01609. Telephone 
(617) 793-5609. Postmaster: If 
undeliverable please send form 
3579 to the address above. Do not 
return publication. 


Volume XCI No. 1 
Summer 1987 

2 The President's Message 

Dr. Jon C. Strauss 

Independent Technological Universities: Aiming at the 
21st Century 

4 In the Labs of Goddard Hall 

Leslie Brunetta 

WPI's excellence in chemical engineering continues — in 
traditional and emerging fields. 

12 The Entrepreneurial Spirit: 
Room with a View 

Michael Shanley 

Page 4 

Fred Molinari '63 climbed to the top of the computer 

/ An Album on Aging 
// A Mirror on the Middle Years 

They're not so bad after all. 

/// Seven Answers to the Question, 
What's the Best Age to Be? 

John T. Bethell 

Julia Ridgely 

Photos by 

Peter Howard 

Page 12 

VI Lifestyle, Illness, and Longevity Peggy Eastman 

Sorting the normal from the abnormal in growing old. 
Plus a look at elixirs, a warning about tanning, and 
thoughts on facing death. 

31 London Bridges Building Up Kenneth McDonnell 

WPI's London Project Center got underway with an 
evening of ritual— and plenty of hard work. 


38 info-Tech: Better Access 
to Expanding Knowledge 

Evelyn Herwitz 

Gordon Library celebrates 20 years in the midst of an 
information-technology revolution . 

Letters Inside back cover 

Cover: June skies behind Boynton Hall. Photo by Jon Reis. 
Opposite: Prof. Robert E. Wagner joined the Chemical 
Engineering Department in 1949. Nearly four decades later, the 
Department carries on its pioneering spirit. Photo by Michael Carroll. 

Page 31 

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Page 38 

SUMMER 1987 


Independent Technological Universities: 
Aiming at the 21st Century 

Beginning 120 years ago with its 
original colonial colleges, Ameri- 
can higher education has evolved 
to the land grant universities, the inde- 
pendent "polytechnic" schools (of which 
WPI was the third to be chartered), the 
liberal arts colleges, the comprehensive 
universities, and now to the modern 
research universities. Given the needs of 
contemporary and future society, the 
breadth of mission of these various types 
of institutions, and the changing charac- 
ter of contemporary "polytechnic" 
schools, a question needs to be ad- 
dressed: What is the best course for 
WPI— a polytechnic now being trans- 
formed into a technological university— 
as it approaches its 125th year and pre- 
pares for a new century of progress? 

Charting a course for the next decade 
is a particularly timely issue as American 
higher education is being subject to 
intense criticism. William Bennett, sec- 
retary of education, recently stated that 
colleges and universities are in danger of 
losing public support because of their 
failings in undergraduate education. A 
great deal of scrutiny has also focused on 
the proper role for technical subjects in 
engineering, business, and science in a 
four-year college education. R.J. 
Franke, president of a major investment 
banking firm, joins a common refrain in 
saying: "Humanities educate us to live, 
and vocational training teaches us to 

Moreover, the recent Carnegie Foun- 
dation Report on Higher Education cites 
a conflict between "careerism and the 
liberal arts," stating that "narrow voca- 
tionalism, with its emphasis on skills 
training, dominates campuses. 

As if these indictments of higher edu- 
cation weren't enough, Allan Bloom, in 
his book The Closing of the American 
Mind, states that students who use the 
university as training grounds for profes- 
sions merely go through the college 
experience with "blinders on, studying 
what the chosen discipline imposes." 
Bloom further alleges that such a student 

By Jon C. Strauss 

is generally motivated not by love of his 
field of interest, but by love of money 
from the career that will follow. Similar 
concerns have been voiced by many in 
business, in higher education, and in 

How should institutes of technology 
respond to these concerns? The value of 
the applied sciences in the undergraduate 
curriculum is under attack. Interestingly, 
this situation is not new; its history is 
both revealing and humorous. The 
applied sciences have long struggled 
against accusations of being vocational 
and secondary. As long ago as ancient 
Greece, for example, Xenophon spoke 
for many of his fellow citizens in Athens 
when he proclaimed that "the mechani- 
cal arts carry a social stigma and are 
rightly dishonored in our city." Technol- 
ogists, he maintained, "simply have not 
the time to perform the offices of friend- 
ship or citizenship. Consequently they 
are . . . bad friends and bad patriots." 

In the 1630s, the Marquis of Worcester 
proposed that England's great universi- 
ties present instruction in the various 
national industries. The Marquis argued 

that men with talent in invention and 
industry were men of great genius and 
should be considered scholars. Himself 
an amateur inventor and scholar, the 
Marquis fought to promote this "new 
education." But he had come upon his 
idea at the wrong time: With Oliver 
Cromwell on one side and Archbishop 
Laud on the other, and England's civil 
war brewing in between, the Marquis' 
thoughts fell on deaf ears. He died bank- 
rupt, and for two centuries more, 
England's universities refrained from 
instruction in anything but the classics. 

The industrial revolution provided the 
catalyst that ultimately changed cur- 
ricula. After centuries of intellectual 
prejudice hampering studies in the 
applied sciences by the world's scholarly 
community, the needs of growing indus- 
trial nations finally created an undeniable 
demand for their acceptance. But this 
societal need did not always enhance 
these areas of inquiry to equal status 
among the more classical disciplines. 

For instance, Yale and Harvard uni- 
versities took bold steps in the late 19th 
century by creating "scientific schools" 
that incorporated studies bearing on 
modern industries. But these scientific 
schools had a severe drawback. Their 
new studies were not presented on a par 
with more classical studies. Both institu- 
tions kept their scientific schools sepa- 
rate, even physically isolating them from 
the rest of campus, and giving their grad- 
uates certificates instead of diplomas. 

Eventually, two types of colleges 
evolved with specific instruction in the 
mechanical and industrial arts. The land 
grant universities had, and continue to 
have, strong ties to agriculture, animal 
husbandry, and mechanical arts— the 
skills necessary to support the economy 
of a rapidly expanding nation. The same 
economic needs that motivated the land 
grant universities prompted the develop- 
ment of the polytechnic schools. WPI — 
founded in 1865— and its predecessors — 
RPI in 1834 and MIT in 1864— were 
established to satisfy the technological 


needs of their communities of origin. In 
the case of WPI, those needs focused on 
preparing young men from the immedi- 
ate locale to staff the burgeoning indus- 
tries and factories of Worcester. WPI 
was successful in this enterprise, as were 
over a dozen other similar institutions. 

Harold Shapiro, Princeton Univer- 
sity's new president, has noted that the 
primary concern of early American col- 
leges was the preservation and the pro- 
motion of morality. Little emphasis was 
placed on the development of new ideas. 
But as the world changed dramatically in 
the 19th and 20th centuries, so did the 
mission of its academic institutions. Just 
as the industrial revolution created a 
need for technical education in engineer- 
ing, science, and business, World War II 
served as a similar agent of change for 
altering higher education's technical 
emphasis. This conflict established that 
basic scientific research was essential for 
a nation to maintain its military and eco- 
nomic strengths. 

The modern research university is the 
direct result of this interpretation, and 
has become the major factor in American 
higher education in the relatively brief 
40-year period since. These institutions 
grew out of some of the land grant uni- 
versities, comprehensive universities, 
and polytechnics. They are characterized 
not only by the scope and breadth of their 
faculty scholarship, but also by the inten- 
sity and success of their faculties at 
obtaining external sponsorship for their 
research, largely from various federal 
agencies. CalTech, MIT, and Carnegie- 
Mellon University (formerly Carnegie 
Tech) are good examples of polytechnic 
colleges that have transformed them- 
selves into research universities. 

These four decades that saw the emer- 
gence and growth of the modern research 
university also saw tremendous changes 
in the polytechnics. Some, like CalTech 
and MIT, did more of the same, but bet- 
ter, while others, like Carnegie Tech and 
Case Tech, achieved recognized research 
university status by affiliation with other 

institutions. But key to the change in all 
of the former polytechnic institutions 
(including WPI and the other members 
of the Association of Independent Tech- 
nological Universities) in the last half of 
this century is a new emphasis on scien- 
tific research. 

WPI is a good example of this change 
in the breadth of the polytechnics. Fol- 
lowing founder John Boynton's emphasis 
on academic instruction and mindful of 
founder Ichabod Washburn's concern for 
practical, shops-oriented education, WPI 
continues to emphasize both theory and 

WPI must devote 

significant resources toward 

faculty development. 

practice. This is the "Two Towers" tra- 
dition captured in the WPI motto Lehr 
und Kunst (learning and skilled arts) and 
is embodied in the original two towers 
(Boynton for academics and Washburn 
for shops). Today, this approach to 
higher education is also embodied in the 
WPI Plan— outcome-oriented education 
that blends theoretical studies and practi- 
cal application through project work. 

While the scope of both the origins and 
employers of WPI students has broad- 
ened considerably in the past 120 years, 
WPI remains closely tied to this nation's 
industries. Yet now, through active pro- 
grams of research, WPI is also initiating 
new developments, processes, and direc- 
tions for industry as well as responding 
directly to its needs for trained engi- 
neers, scientists, and managers. In this, 
WPI remains true to its founders' direc- 
tive to create or discover and to convey 
knowledge at the frontiers of academic 
inquiry for the betterment of society, 
while responding to the very different 
world today. 

The evolution of engineering in higher 
education and the recent recognition of 

the polytechnics as technological univer- 
sities help bring focus to my question 
above regarding the best course for WPI 
in preparation for the 21st century. 

The recent report on "Engineering 
Education and Practice in the United 
States" predicts an evolving future. It 
foresees likely characteristics of the 
engineering environment in the year 
2000 to include longer time horizons for 
profit-taking, shortages of capital and 
resources (both energy and materials), a 
global economy with increased intra- and 
interindustry competition, increased 
government demand for engineering 
goods and services, continued high rate 
of scientific discovery and technological 
development, and an increased require- 
ment for nonadvanced engineering tasks. 

Reports such as this and the Carnegie 
Report must be considered when deter- 
mining a future course. Fortunately, 
WPI is healthier than many peer techno- 
logical universities with respect to the 
reports' recommendations. For example, 
the Carnegie Report raises one question 
above all others: "Can the liberal and 
useful arts be blended during college, as 
they must inevitably be blended during 
life?" To accomplish this and other 
objectives, the Carnegie investigators 
propose several criteria: 

• The student's field of study should 
include a written thesis that relates 
some aspect of the major to historical, 
social, or ethical concerns. 

• Every student should write a senior 
thesis, and present this report in an 
oral defense to colleagues and fellow 

• Students should be measured by the 
outcome of their education, not by cur- 
riculum requirements fulfilled. 

• While not all professors need be pub- 
lishing researchers, they nonetheless 
should be first-rate scholars. 

These specifications are well met by 
the "outcome"-oriented WPI Plan, 
which has been evolving at WPI over the 

Continued on inside back cover 

SUMMER 1987 3 

WPI's excellence 

in chemical 


continues — in 

traditional and 

emerging fields. By Leslie Brunetta 

In the Labs 
of Goddard Hall 

THING about WPI's chemi- 
cal engineering department," 
says Associate Professor 
Robert Thompson, "is that 
we rank among the top uni- 
versities in at least three areas 
of research— zeolites, bio- 
chemical engineering, and 
catalysis. Considering how 
small the department and the 
college are, that's pretty 

While the MITs, CalTechs, 
and Purdues of this country 
can boast chemical engineer- 
ing faculties of 30 or more, 
WPI's department supports a 
staff of just 10 active faculty 
members. But, as David 
proved to Goliath, strength 
doesn't always depend on 
size: sometimes commitment, 
clear aim, and focused energy 
can put you on top. 

FOR MORE than a decade, 
WPI has been an internation- 
ally known center for zeolite 
research. When the inferno of 
molten magma at the center 
of the earth breaks its bounds, 
igneous rock is formed as 
lava belches up to the earth's 
surface and meets cooling air 
or water. In the cavities of 
these rocks can be found 
about 40 varieties of zeo- 


lites— minerals consisting of 
hydrous silicates. Like all 
other minerals, zeolites are 
crystals, and so their atoms 
are arranged in regularly 
repeating patterns. 

Fortunately for chemical 
engineers, and for the rest of 
us who rely on a variety of 
chemical products in our 
daily lives, these patterns 
have been found to be 
extremely useful tools in a 
number of chemical pro- 
cesses, particularly in the pro- 
duction of liquid fuels and 
new chemicals. So useful, in 
fact, that over the years 
chemical engineers have gone 
to the trouble to synthesize an 
additional 150 or so zeolites. 

"I was recently at a confer- 
ence in Tokyo," says Thomp- 
son, "and someone came up 
to me and said, 'Oh, you're 
from the WPI zeolite group. 
You're the only ones in the 
country who are doing any 
reasonable work.' We get 
comments like that fre- 
quently, and it's a good feel- 

Thompson's acquaintance 
may have been exaggerating 
WPI's standing a bit, but the 
fact that WPI has a larger 
zeolite research program than 
any other academic institution 

in the country and that the 
department can be counted on 
to be a star participant in vir- 
tually every major zeolite 
conference is taken for 
granted by the rest of the 
chemical engineering world 

WPI owes this fame in part 
to the pioneering work of Pro- 
fessor Leonard Sand, who 
died in September 1985. Sand 
joined the department in 1967 
after spending eight years as 
head of a Norton Company 
research unit developing syn- 
thetic zeolites. During his 
nearly 20 years at WPI, 
Sand's enthusiasm for the 
promises zeolites held out for 
industry and research rubbed 
off on the department's other 
members, with the result that 
now nearly half of them are 
involved in some aspect of 
zeolite research. 

Because of the properties of 
their crystalline structures, 
many zeolites act as molecu- 
lar sieves— they allow some 
molecules to pass through 
them but not others. This 
chemical gate-keeping activ- 
ity is essential to the zeolites' 
role in catalysis, a process 
central to the workings of the 
whole chemical industry. 

A catalyst, such as a 
zeolite, either kicks off or 
affects the rate of a chemical 
reaction without itself being 
chemically changed by the 
reaction. That's important: 
The reaction might take place 
in nature anyway, but so 
slowly as to be of little use. 

Two ways in which zeolites 
act as catalysts are depart- 
ment research specialties: 
adsorption— in which a thin 
layer of the reacting mole- 
cules sticks to the zeolite 
surface— and diffusion — in 
which gas or liquid molecules 
pass through a zeolite. 

Department Head Professor 
Yi Hua "Ed" Ma's primary 
research interests are in the 
adsorption and transport 
properties of reactants as they 
diffuse through porous mate- 
rials, including molecular 

sieve zeolites. This research 
is of fundamental importance 
to catalysis because how— 
and how quickly— a reactant 
travels through and around a 
catalytic site on its way to the 
reaction site determines how 
efficient a reaction will be. 
Ma studies both intercrystal- 
line diffusion (how a reactant 
gets from one crystal to 
another) and intracrystalline 
diffusion (how a reactant gets 
through a single crystal) with 
the goal of helping industry 
better predict the most effi- 
cient sizes for reactors and 
flow patterns for reactants. 

Ma is also trying to help 
scientists and industry by rec- 
onciling seemingly contradic- 
tory results that have 
appeared in research litera- 
ture. Over the years, many 
people have tried to measure 
zeolites' adsorptive and diffu- 
sive properties by using 
nuclear magnetic resonance 
techniques and gravimetric 

But the two techniques 
often produce extremely dif- 
ferent measurements. Ma 
hopes that, through a more 
rigorous approach, he'll be 
able to resolve these different 
measurements and come to an 
understanding of the two 
properties that will make cat- 
alytic use of zeolites more 

Ma's work in this area is an 
NSF-sponsored, cooperative 
effort with WPI colleague 
Associate Professor Anthony 
Dixon and Clark University 
Professors Alan Jones and 
Paul Inglefield. 

A new area of Ma's re- 
search is inorganic mem- 
branes—materials (including 
aluminas and zeolites) that 
may find applications in many 
industrial processes. Almost 
without his expecting it, Ma's 
work in zeolites has propelled 
him to leadership in the field. 
In fact, Alcoa has given him 
$100,000 to establish the 
country's only academic cen- 
ter for inorganic membrane 

These membranes would be 
made up of inorganic materi- 
als (oxides) through which a 
fluid would pass. As the fluid 
passed through it, the fluid's 
diffusion properties would 
cause some of the fluid's 
components to separate out. 
The successful use of inor- 
ganic membranes could 
provide industry with an 
extremely efficient way to 
cull valuable products. 

In 1986 Ma was elected to a 
six-year term as a member of 
the governing council of the 
International Zeolite Associa- 

Department ambassador 
Professor Alvin Weiss is also 
a long-time student of zeolite 
catalysis, and is widely rec- 
ognized as a world-class 
expert. He has traveled all 
over the globe to share his 
expertise in catalysis, helping 
to set up projects or analyze 
results in Argentina, Israel, 
the USSR, and Viet Nam, 
among other countries. 

Weiss 's research projects in 
this area have been many. He 
has defined how ethylene 
glycol— the thick liquid alco- 
hol used in antifreezes — can 
be produced as formaldehyde 
reacts over basic zeolites. He 

Opposite: Associate Profes- 
sor Robert W. Thompson (I.) 
works with M.S. student 
Richard Correia on a partial 
size analyzer for measuring 
zeolite crystal size distribu- 
tion. Above: Professor Yi 
Hua "Ed" Ma heads a 
department that has long 
been one of the Institute's 
most distinguished. 

SUMMER 1987 5 

also has been studying ad- 
sorption in natural zeolites. 

A project that falls under 
the biochemical engineering 
umbrella involves using zeo- 
lites as one of a number of 
catalysts in the synthesis of 
edible sugars from non-edible 
chemicals such as formalde- 
hyde. The sugars might also 
be synthesized from water 
and waste carbon dioxide — 
one small step toward making 
long space voyages more fea- 

One type of zeolites, the 
H-ZSM-5 synthetic, is a big 
player in the fuel industry, 
and Professor William Moser 
has been trying to find out 
more about it. Mobil has 
already used it to convert 

Prof. William R. Moser 
works on developing meth- 
ods for using the alcohol 
from anything that can be 
fermented to make ethylene, 
the world's largest commer- 
cial chemical. 

methanol to unleaded gaso- 
line. It is used in South Africa 
in a process for converting 
coal first to synthetic gasoline 
and then to a readily usable 
gasoline. What Moser has 
found is that it can also be 
used to convert dilute aque- 
ous ethanol to high quality 

"That means," Moser says, 
"using anything that can be 
fermented, you can take the 
alcohol from that fermenta- 
tion and convert it to ethyl- 
ene, which is probably the 
single largest commercial 
chemical used in the world. 
It's used for making every- 
thing from fuel to plastics." 
And since ethylene is usually 
obtained from either coal gas 
or petroleum hydrocarbons- 
finite resources— the option to 
take it instead from renewable 
sources like plants is a 
remarkable one. 

Moser is joined in the study 
of zeolite synthesis by Ma 
and Thompson. Thompson 
devotes most of his research 
time to trying to understand 
how and under what circum- 
stances zeolites crystallize. 
At present, a lot is known 
about what different zeolite 
crystals can do, but not 
enough about how they get 
that way, and without that 
understanding much of 
zeolite technology remains a 
dream rather than a reality. 

"Once we understand 
zeolite crystallization," 
Thompson says, "we can 
control it. Many of the natural 
zeolites come contaminated, 
and some of the synthetic 
ones are inefficient. Once we 
can control the crystallization 
process, zeolites should 
become much more cost 

Another problem Thomp- 
son is working on concerns 
zeolite stability— or lack 
thereof. Most of the useful 
zeolites are chemically unsta- 
ble and tend toward more sta- 
ble, but less useful, phases. 
Some zeolites can be stabi- 
lized in their useful phases, 

but the very substances that 
aid the stabilization have 
other side effects that botch 
reactions. Thompson hopes 
that, through both experimen- 
tal and theoretical work, he'll 
soon be able to crack the mys- 
teries of the transformation 
from one phase to the next 
and so, eventually, be able to 
control the change. 

The project that the zeolite 
team is perhaps most excited 
about is the NASA space 
shuttle zeolite experiment. 
Thompson, Tony Dixon, and 
Associate Professor Albert 
Sacco have been awarded a 
$325,000 grant from NASA's 
Centers for Space Commer- 
cialization program. The 
team will study microgravity 

zeolite crystal growth— 
specifically, how to grow 
zeolite crystals in space that 
are larger than those that can 
be grown in earth's gravity. 

On earth, Sacco explains, 
zeolite crystals of industrial 
interest typically grow to have 
sides two to eight microns 
(one micron is one millionth 
of a meter) in length. In 
space, where gravity becomes 
a secondary consideration and 
surface tension a primary 
one, the crystals may grow to 
have sides in excess of 100 
microns in length. 

Growing large zeolite crys- 
tals will have tremendous 
implications for the commer- 
cial use of zeolites. Such 
large zeolite crystals should 


be excellent selective molecu- 
lar membranes as well as use- 
ful ionic exchange materials. 
"NASA seems to think that 
this process may be commer- 
cialized in a short time," says 
Thompson. "But even if it 
isn't, we stand to learn a great 
deal about processing both in 
microgravity and on earth." 

"We are one of probably 
only three or four schools in 
the country who know how to 
process in space," Sacco 
says. "In fact, we are perhaps 
the only school given priority 
flight time in the shuttle flight 
schedule." After the explo- 
sion of the Challenger 
delayed all subsequent shuttle 
launches, many experiments 
scheduled for the flights were 
bounced in favor of Depart- 
ment of Defense projects. But 
NASA thinks so highly of the 
WPI project that not only was 
a slot saved for it, but it was 
also actually bumped farther 
ahead of its original position 
on the experiment list. 

While the NASA zeolite 
project's results should 

mainly benefit earthbound 
industry, Sacco's other NASA 
project may solve one of the 
major obstacles to extended 
space missions: the effort and 
cost of transporting oxygen 
from the earth. "Basically, 
we'll be mining the moon for 
oxygen," Sacco says, "and if 
it works, it should cost only 
about 20 percent of what it 
costs to transport oxygen 
from earth." 

What Sacco is proposing is 
to mine ilmenite, a mineral 
composed of iron, titanium, 
and oxygen that's found in 
great quantities on the moon's 
surface. A fixed amount of 
hydrogen would be brought to 
the moon from earth and 
reacted with the ilmenite. As 
the hydrogen bonded with the 
oxygen in the ilmenite, water 
would be formed. The water 
then could be separated back 
into hydrogen and oxygen by 
electrolysis and the hydrogen 
recycled while the oxygen is 
used on a space station or for 
deep space missions. "Obvi- 
ously, there are a lot of tech- 

nical difficulties," says 
Sacco, "but we have a four- 
year contract to try to develop 
the kinetics of the process." 

One of Sacco's graduate 
students, Randall Briggs '86, 
is continuing ilmenite-related 

Current research of Assoc. 
Prof. Albert Sacco includes 
a NASA-sponsored study on 
the growing of zeolites in 

Bob Wagner: Still Climbing 
All Kinds of Mountains 

Before Prof. Robert Wagner and his wife, Ruth, set off on a 
cross-country retirement celebration last year, Wagner tele- 
phoned a few old students. By the time the couple returned to 
Shrewsbury, they had been welcomed into the homes of over 
40 alums. 

"It's funny," Wagner says, "but I remembered each of their 
voices the moment I heard it on the phone— even if I hadn't 
spoken to them since class 30 years ago." 

Wagner has always had this instant rapport with his students, 
and it's a prime reason he has long been one of the best-loved 
professors on the Hill. Another is his ability to inspire his stu- 
dents with imaginative and practical approaches to problems 
that might at first seem outside the usual realm of the chemical 

Wagner regularly used to supervise more than 30 MQP and 
IQP students a year, a measure of both his dedication and his 
popularity among the students. "I became a nature freak when 
I started mountain-climbing," says Wagner. "Since then, most 
of the MQPs and IQPs I've handled have centered around 
problems with the contamination of nature." 

Solar composters at trailside toilets in the White Mountains 
posed a memorable puzzle for Wagner. Because they worked 

too slowly, the Appala- 
chian Mountain Club, 
which supervises 
them, faced the costly 
prospect of hauling 
wastes by helicopter. 
But Wagner's students 
found a way to 
enhance the compos- 
ters' work by forcing 
warm moist air 
through their reaction 
A paradox involv- 
ing acid rain also riveted Wagner: Red spruce in valleys were 
healthy, but dying on mountaintops. His students designed a 
device separating clouds' particles of fine fog and rain. They 
solved the mystery: Analysis showed the fog particles to be 50 
times more acidic than rain, and rain fell in the valleys while 
fog shrouded the peaks. The students next installed separators 
in Alaska and the Rockies under government contract. 

"Chemical engineers are in the best shape to do this kind of 
environmental work," says Wagner. Thanks to his dedication, 
many WPI alums can now see why. —LB 

SUMMER 1987 

Biochemist William M. 
Clark is working to under- 
stand how fundamental 
areas of chemical engineer- 
ing like thermodynamics 
and transport properties 
apply to new biochemical 

research, which he began as 
an undergraduate while com- 
pleting his Interactive Quali- 
fying Project. 

TION to the chemical engi- 
neering team is Assistant Pro- 
fessor William M. Clark. 
Clark gained his Ph.D. from 
Rice University in 1984, then 
studied in Denmark for nine 
months on an NSF-NATO 
postdoctoral fellowship. Fol- 
lowing further postdoctoral 
experience at the University 
of Delaware, he came to WPI 
last fall. 

"Besides the high quality 
of WPI research and its 
students, I was attracted by 
the idea of working with 
DiBiasio and Rollings," says 
Clark. Associate Professors 
David DiBiasio and James 
Rollings form the backbone 
of WPI's biochemical engi- 
neering effort. The fact that 
WPI now has three research- 
ers not only specializing in 
the field but also in different 
aspects of the field puts the 
college in a class by itself. 

"There are probably not 
more than 80 biochemical en- 
gineers distributed through- 
out the nation's universi- 

ties," explains Rollings. "Not 
more than 15 deparments 
have more than two people. 
We have three, which puts 
us among the, say, top five 
schools. And most of those 
have all their people work- 
ing in the same area — 
fermentation, for example. 
Whereas at WPI, we have 
someone specializing in fer- 
mentation, in biothermo- 
dynamics, and in biopoly- 

DiBiasio is the depart- 
ment's point man in fermen- 
tation and process control of 
biochemical systems. Cur- 
rently, his main area of con- 
centration is in studying bio- 
chemical reactors, with an 
aim toward eventually con- 
trolling and optimizing them. 
The reactors DiBiasio is 
studying use whole cells, 
such as microorganisms or 
tissue cultures, to convert 
some raw material into a use- 
ful product. That product 
may be a protein, a vaccine, a 
hormone, or some other bio- 
logical substance. 

DiBiasio has spent most of 
his recent efforts on a micro- 
bial system yielding a protein 
that may be used for animal 
food. "I'm trying to develop 

a methodology for mathe- 
matical modeling of these 
systems," he says. These 
models, he hopes, may even- 
tually be used to better con- 
trol multiple steady state and 
dynamic reactors. 

Hollow fiber reactors are a 
second kind of bioreactor 
used to produce proteins, in 
this case, proteins that may 
be used for therapeutic pur- 
poses. The problem is that 
since live animal cells are 
used to produce the proteins, 
special consideration has to 
be given to their fragility and 
their sensitivity to outside 
influences if the very biologi- 
cal processes that make them 
promising are to be pre- 
served. DiBiasio is engaged 
in theoretical and experimen- 
tal work directed toward 
designing these reactors so 
that the cells are maintained 
in optimum condition. 

Even though many systems 
used in biotechnology 
research make use of immo- 
bilized cell reactors, not 
much is yet understood about 
how pinning the cells down 
affects their behavior. And 
without this information, it's 
tremendously difficult to pre- 
dict how best to scale reactors 

up to the sizes needed to 
make biotechnology a thriv- 
ing industry. 

So DiBiasio has formed a 
partnership with Judith 
Miller, associate professor of 
biology and biotechnology, to 
discover what effect immobi- 
lizing microbial cells in reac- 
tors has on a system. Miller 
and DiBiasio are studying a 
recombinant strain of E. coli 
to see how immobilization 
affects the cells' use of the 
input substance, distribution 
of by-products, and gene 

Two years ago, the 
National Science Foundation 
and the White House flagged 
Jim Rollings' exceptional 
work on biopolymers with a 
Presidential Young Investiga- 
tor award. Proteins, polynu- 
cleic acids, and polysac- 
charides (carbohydrates such 
as starch or cellulose) are all 
biopolymers — biological sub- 
stances whose molecules are 
constructed of chains of 
smaller molecules. 

A polysaccharide, for 
instance, is a large molecule 
that can be broken down into 
component molecules such as 
fructose or glucose by break- 
ing the hydrogen-oxygen 
bonds between these mole- 
cules. Rollings' work aims to 
build up an understanding of 
the fundamental physical and 
chemical properties of biopo- 
lymers and how these proper- 
ties affect a variety of bio- 
chemical processes. 

"Rice isn't corn isn't wheat 
isn't cassava, even though 
they're all polysaccharide 
starches," says Rollings, stat- 
ing an observation that any- 
one who has either cooked 
with or eaten those foods will 
have made. "But why they're 
different, we don't know." 

Not knowing why cassava 
starch was different from 
wheat starch didn't matter in 
the days when all that rode on 
that knowledge was a bowl of 
tapioca or a loaf of bread. But 
in the age of biotechnology, 
when these abundant, renew- 

able sources of food may 
hold the keys to more plenti- 
ful supplies of fuel, industrial 
chemicals, or nutrition for 
people in food-poor areas, 
this knowledge becomes 
more valuable with every 
passing year. 

One of the main facets of 
Rollings' research is the 
development of an analytical 
technique for characterizing 
biopolymers and their proper- 
ties. Rollings has found that 
currently available tools for 
analyzing molecular charac- 
teristics aren't up to the task 
of studying biopolymer sys- 
tems, so he's trying to come 
up with something designed 
specifically for them — a size 
exclusion chromatograph 
coupled to an on-line detec- 

Another Rollings project is 
the study of depolymerization 
kinetics— what happens when 
biopolymers break down into 
their component molecules. 
"In industry, you want to 
process polymers so that they 
have more desirable end 
products," says Rollings. 
"For instance, you might 
want to take corn, which is 
abundant and cheap, and 
process it to come up with a 
sweetener that's cheaper than 

What happens when a 
polysaccharide, for instance, 
is depolymerized is well 
known; it's hit with an 
enzyme and chewed down to 
its individual sugars. How 
that process works isn't 
understood, though. The 
practical problem of this lack 
of knowledge is that effective 
depolymerization usually 
boils down to a matter of trial 
and error attempts to break 
down some particular poly- 
mer. "So if we know how to 
get an alternative sweetener 
out of corn, that's great for 
places that have plenty of 
corn," says Rollings. "But 
what about Thailand, where 
cassava is the main starch 
crop? If we don't really 
understand depolymerization, 

1 1 


the applications are limited." 
As the new kid on the 
block, Clark is still in the 
early stages of his research 
projects. But with a strong 
background in thermodynam- 
ics and transport properties, 
he is already in the thick of 
work geared toward an 
understanding of how these 
fundamental areas of chemi- 
cal engineering apply to 
newly recognized biochem- 
ical systems. 

One of the most important 
factors in the eventual sur- 
vival and success of biotech- 
nology as an industry is the 
development of reliable, 
large-scale recovery pro- 
cesses. It's all very well, after 
all, to be able to produce pro- 
teins or hormones or vaccines 
in the lab, but if you can't 
manage to extract them effi- 
ciently from the system 
they're in, they're not much 
use for anything except, per- 
haps, scientific study. So 
Clark is experimenting and 
using mathematical modeling 
to gain insight into some 
basic separation problems. 

Clark's two main projects 
at the moment involve two- 
phase solutions. In the first 
project, he is studying the 

Assoc. Prof. David 
DiBiasio 's research in bio- 
chemical systems centers on 
reactors that convert raw 
materials into products like 
proteins, vaccines, and hor- 

SUMMER 1987 

Above: A founding member 
of WPl's zeolite team, Prof. 
Alvin H. Weiss also studies 
catalysis related to petro- 
chemicals, ceramics, pollu- 
tion control, and fire 
protection. Opposite: Assoc. 
Prof. Anthony Dixon (left) 
and graduate student Chue- 
San Yoo examine a semicon- 
ductor wafer. 

thermodynamics of a separa- 
tion process in which a bacte- 
rial cell pulls an antibiotic 
from one phase into the next, 
thereby separating it from the 
other components of its origi- 
nal solution phase. A kind of 
affinity partitioning, this 
process seems to have the 
potential to be very selective, 
even in a large-scale opera- 

His second project is a col- 
laboration with DiBiasio. 
They are trying to incorporate 
a two-phase system into a 
bioreactor with the hope that 
they can come up with an 
extremely efficient process — 
simultaneous biochemical 
reaction and extraction. (The 
experiment is similar to Roll- 
ing's reactor-separator exper- 
iments in concept, although 
the chemistry is different.) 
The idea is that, while recir- 
culating the reactor cells and 
continuously removing reac- 
tion inhibitors and the end 
products, production of such 
things as antibiotics and 

recombinant proteins can be 
markedly enhanced. 

WHILE WPI is at the leading 
edge of the two "new" spe- 
cialty areas of zeolites and 
biochemical engineering, the 
department also claims hon- 
ors as a leader in one of the 
field's most fundamental 
studies— catalysis. Most of 
the zeolite research actually 
falls into the catalysis cate- 
gory, but zeolites are just one 
in a myriad of catalyst types. 

Weiss, a founding member 
of the zeolite team, together 
with Ed Ma, is also heavily 
involved in researching petro- 
chemical catalysis, as well as 
catalysts for use with 
ceramics and in pollution 
abatement and fire protec- 

He has been able to break 
down methane at high tem- 
peratures to produce acety- 
lene and ethylene, immensely 
valuable chemicals which are 
usually taken from fossil 
fuels. Weiss has also invented 
a technique to fluidize silicon 
so that it can react with atmo- 
spheric nitrogen— a new way 
of manufacturing silicon 
nitride, a tough ceramic that 
is bound to be integral to new 
mechanical and electrical 
engineering design. And he 
has found catalysts that 
adsorb and react with toxic 
materials in ways that prom- 
ise to save people from death 
by smoke inhalation— the pri- 
mary cause of fatalities. 

Catalysis falls into two 
main categories: heteroge- 
neous (in which the catalyst is 
a solid and a gas or liquid 
reactant is passed over it) and 
homogeneous (in which the 
catalyst is dissolved in a solu- 
tion and the reactant is passed 
through it). Over the last few 
years, chemical engineers 
have enormously increased 
their knowledge of how these 
two types of catalysis func- 
tion, in large part thanks to 
scientists like Moser who 
have designed microscopic 
techniques for their study. 

Over the past four years, 
Moser has developed a highly 
sensitive infrared spectro- 
scopic exam that enables him 
to see what happens under 
typical industrial conditions. 
Using the exam, he has been 
able to determine exactly 
what happens— in real time 
and under real conditions— in 
the Monsanto acetic acid 
process (producing vinyl ace- 
tate, one of the top 10 indus- 
trial chemicals), the Union 
Carbide hydroformylation 
process (producing plastics 
and detergents), and the Dow 
organic halide carbonylation 
process (producing mono- 
mers for polymerization). 
"I'm providing the funda- 
mental information needed to 
make these processes better," 
says Moser. "And if you 
make the processes better, 
you can make the products 

Moser's catalytic explora- 
tions have also led him into 
the development of a new 
method to synthesize simple 
and mixed metal oxides. This 
new method was meant to 
give the metal oxides unusual 
properties that would make 
them super-effective cata- 
lysts. But, unexpectedly, they 
also seem to be exceptional 
candidates for new leaders in 
superconductivity, the most 
recent area of engineering 
research to make the front 
pages. Moser is now doing 
the research necessary to 
determine if the materials' 
reality lives up to their poten- 

In another case of near- 
serendipity, Al Sacco is now 
trying to encourage a stage of 
catalysis that he had previ- 
ously spent years trying to 
eliminate. For decades, 
chemical engineers tried to 
stop the growth of the carbon 
filaments that tend to sprout 
whenever a catalytic process 
involves transition metals and 
high-temperature gases. As 
the filaments grow, they 
deactivate the catalyst, slow- 
ing down the process and 


making it more expensive. 
But it turns out that if the fila- 
ments can be grown long 
enough and fat enough, they 
can be woven to make 
carbon-carbon composites 
that approach the strength of 
steel but are much lighter. 
Many supersonic fighter air- 
craft already use other types 
of carbon-carbon composites 
in their skins, and the mate- 
rial has many other potential 
uses in space and industrial 

Tony Dixon takes informa- 
tion about catalysts and uses 
it to analyze and design cata- 
lytic reactors, in particular, 
the fixed bed reactor. "The 
fixed bed reactor is the work 
horse of the entire chemical 
industry," according to 
Dixon. "The bulk of all 
chemical processes comes 
through these reactors, and 
the efficient operation of the 
reactor is dependent upon an 
understanding of the heat 
transfer process within it. 

That's what I'm working on." 
One way to think of a fixed 
bed reactor is to think of a 
tube filled with catalytic par- 
ticles and perhaps other reac- 
tants. The primary reactant is 
passed through the tube. As it 
comes through, the reaction 
produces a lot of heat, usually 
enough to burn up some of 
the products that are sup- 
posed to emerge at the other 
end of the tube. The goal is to 
get as many of those products 
to come through the tube 
unscathed as possible. 

What Dixon is studying is 
the relationship between the 
rates of heat transfer and the 
flow of gas through the tube, 
with the ultimate aim of being 
to be able to control the 
amount of damage done by 
the heat. Dixon is experi- 
menting with how different 
catalyst particle shapes and 
methods of packing the tube 
come into play. 


have been eventful ones for 
the Chemical Engineering 
Department. In addition to 
the many honors collected by 
individual team members, the 
department and the college 
have garnered attention as 
home of the New England 
Biotechnology Association 
(NEB A), organized by 
DiBiasio, Rollings, and Judy 
Miller to promote dialogue 
between people specializing 
in biotechnology, biochemis- 
try, and chemical engineer- 
ing. This year saw the fourth 
annual NEBA conference 
held at WPI, with more than 
200 university and industry 
scientists and engineers in 

In addition, Sacco and 
Weiss were chosen as this 
year's co-chairmen for the 
18th Biennial Conference on 
Carbon which took place at 
WPI in July. This is the larg- 
est U.S. conference of its 
kind. More than 600 carbon 
specialists from around the 

world attended and presented 
over 300 papers. 

WPI has traditionally been 
known as a leading center for 
the study and teaching of 
chemical engineering's fun- 
damental disciplines— ther- 
modynamics, fluid mechan- 
ics, process engineering, and 
the like. Even though the 
department has established 
itself as a leader in novel 
areas, that hasn't changed. 

Anthony Dixon's advice to 
young chemical engineers 
hasn't changed with the open- 
ing of new frontiers: "We 
need the specialty areas, but 
we still need what we think of 
as a chemical engineer's basic 
knowledge. That's where we 
come from, and that's what 
enables us to make our 
unique contributions in new 

Leslie Brunetta is a case 
writer at Harvard 's Kennedy 
School of Government and a 
freelance writer and editor. 

SUMMER 1987 11 

Fred Molinari fits the classic profile 
of an entrepreneur, but don't tell 
him that. 
The founder and president of the 
computer product firm Data Translation 
considers such profiles to be largely irrel- 

"People try to find similar characteris- 
tics among entrepreneurs," says Molinari 
from his company's modern all-purpose 
headquarters on Interstate 495 in 
Marlboro. MA. "And they do find some 
things. They find that entrepreneurs are 
likely to be 30 to 35 when they start busi- 
nesses, that they probably were first- 
born of the family. But you could get 
together a lot of people who are 30 to 35 
and firstborn in the family, and there 
probably wouldn't be an entrepreneur in 
the bunch. And if you got together 50 
entrepreneurs, you'd find 50 different 

Molinari 's story, however, has at least 
some familiar elements. Like other of the 
industry's success stories, Molinari 
found himself a niche in the growing 
computer industry of the early 1970s and 
rode the wave as the world embraced 
low-cost computing power. 

Molinari's niche was— and is— data 
acquisition products, devices that take 
information from electronic sensors 
(which measure such things as tempera- 
ture, pressure, and voltage) and translate 
them into digital form for storage or pro- 
cessing by computer. 

"There's a fundamental need to con- 
vert analog to digital," Molinari 
explains. "Some companies do it with an 
integrated circuit, or chip, and others, 
like us, do it in a modular sense." 

Molinari cites the common industrial 
application of a process control loop, 
where precise temperature measurements 
are crucial. 

But Data's devices are also used in a 
variety of other settings. In medicine, for 
example, the company's products are 
used as a go-between for Jarvik artificial 
heart patients and their computer moni- 
tors, and as part of the process for "cell 
sorting," a noninvasive technique for 
studying the human fetus. Another com- 
pany uses one of Data's boards as part of 
a noise cancellation system that makes 
factories and vehicles quieter and more 

Most of Data Translation's products, 
which generally range in price from $500 
to $1,500, are made for Digital Equip- 
ment Corp. computers, but the company 
is also the principal supplier of data 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit 
Seventh in a Series 

with a 

From his office 

overlooking the 

nation's premier 

hi-tech highway, Fred 

Molinari '63 looks at 

the past and, 
especially, the future. 

By Michael Shanley 

acquisition products for the IBM PC. 

In recent years, Molinari has overseen 
the company's expansion into the field of 
image processing, which converts a reg- 
ular picture into digitized form and stores 
it in the computer. One of Data's image 
processing boards allows an image from 
a camera or VCR to be stored as data in a 
computer's memory, then displayed on a 
computer monitor. 

A new generation of boards and soft- 
ware that offers sharp resolution and 
extremely fast flexible processing has 
doubled and tripled the company's 
growth in the last year or two. Data's 
products are being used to solve prob- 
lems in research installations, factories, 
X-ray equipment, and CAT scanners. 

CSD International Inc. is using one of 
Data's image processing boards as part 
of an automated system that inspects 
toothbrushes. A video camera takes a 
picture of the toothbrush, then the digi- 
tized picture is examined for defects such 
as missing tufts or dirt. 

All this pushed Data's net sales over 
the $23 million mark last year, a 37 per- 
cent increase over the previous year. Net 
income was $2.1 million, an increase of 
30 percent. Stock originally priced at 
$7.50 when the company went public in 
1985 was selling this summer at $17 to 
$18 per share. 

The company's sleek 47,000-square- 
foot Marlboro headquarters has been 
expanded four times. Construction on 
another 30,000-square-foot expansion 
will soon be under way. Data currently 
employs about 175 workers. Included 
among the 25 engineers are several WPI 
graduates, including Stephen G. La- 
Veuenesse '84 and Robert F. White '64. 

But, of course, it wasn't always so 
rosy for him. Like most who 
have built companies from 
scratch, he's been through some 
hard times. Foremost among them was a 
devastating trade secrets suit that nearly 
destroyed Data Translation in its first 
months of operation. 

That's why when you ask Molinari 
today what the one crucial ingredient in 
the entrepreneurial soup is, he'll say 

"Almost anyone can make it, given 
the time," he says. "You just have to 
have enough determination to make it 
through the difficult years. That's assum- 
ing that you know what you're doing, 
and that you're going to pick up on 
opportunities and keep going. 


"Luck plays a big part, too— you can 
get there earlier if you have some lucky 
breaks. But even without the breaks, it's 
just a matter of being solid in your com- 
mitment to what you're trying to do. Of 
course you've also got to be smart 
enough to figure out something that 
really makes sense to do, and perceptive 
enough to know when it's time to move 
in another direction. 

"Each venture has its own finger- 
prints. But I think the overriding element 
is perseverance." Molinari's own perse- 
verance was severely tested early in his 

After working for a few years as a 
manager for Pacific Telephone and Tele- 
graph in San Jose, Calif. , and as a design 
engineer for EG&G at a nuclear test site 
in Nevada, Molinari returned to New 
England. He took a job as an electronics 
engineer while earning a master's degree 
in electrical engineering from Northeast- 
ern University. A number of business 
course electives there fueled his interest 
in marketing. 

He was accepted into Harvard Busi- 
ness School, and studied full time for a 
couple of years, earning an M.B.A. in 
1970. To help pay his way, he took con- 
sulting jobs with a company called Ana- 
log Devices. 

After graduation, he went to work for 
Analog as an integrated circuit/converter 
product marketing manager. Two years 
later, he accepted a vice presidency at a 
similarly named company, Analogic 
Corp. Both companies were involved in 
translating analog into digital. 

"I ended up having some fundamental 
differences of opinion with my boss," 
Molinari says of his one-year stint with 
Analogic. "And of course I was the one 
who had to go." 

So, in 1973, Molinari— with a wife 
and three children, little in the way of 
savings, and lots in the way of 
expenses — found himself out of work. 

"I did what many out-of-work people 
do," he says with a smile, "I called 
myself a consultant." 

On a more serious note, Molinari says, 
"So much of life is determined by how 
you deal with unforeseen events. I think 
people get the mistaken impression that 
every entrepreneur has a master plan to 
start his or her own business and be suc- 
cessful. Perhaps that's true in some 
cases, but it wasn't in mine." In fact, 
Molinari says, he was quite happy work- 
ing for somebody else. 

Over the course of his time at Analo- 

gic, Molinari had established enough 
contacts to make a decent living as a con- 
sultant after parting ways with the com- 
pany. "I never really liked consulting, 
though," Molinari recalls. "Because 
you're always trying to sell yourself— it's 
25 percent doing your job and 75 percent 
selling yourself. And you're always 
looking for the next job." 

While on the consulting circuit, 
Molinari met two others with similar sit- 
uations. "We had different skills," he 
says of the men who would become his 
partners, "and we were able to put some- 
thing together." 

All three had an understanding of the 
data acquisition field, so they each tossed 
$700 into the pot and, in November of 
1973, formed Data Translation. 

After a few weeks of working out of 
the basement in Molinari's Framingham 
home, they found a low-rent, 9-by-12 
office in town. There — below a bowling 
alley and above a restaurant— they devel- 

Assembling advanced computer hard- 
ware is still a labor-intensive task. But 
automation, says Fred Molinari '63, is 
replacing much of the painstaking 
effort involved. 

oped their first product, a data acquisi- 
tion module similar to products sold by 

"We succeeded in the most important 
step in any venture: we started," says 
Molinari. It's like the answer to the ques- 
tion 'How does one begin running?' 
'You open the front door, and you put 
one foot in front of the other and you 
keep going.' That's what we did." 

The first months were spent writing 
data sheets, buying printed circuit boards 
and components, and preparing a busi- 
ness plan that could be shown to venture 
capitalists. The trio supported them- 
selves by consulting for other compa- 

Just four months into the venture, 

SUMMER 1987 13 

catastrophe struck. Before the product 
was even on the market, Analogic 
slapped the new company with a lawsuit, 
claiming, on the basis of a data sheet, 
that Data was unfairly using Analogic 's 
trade secrets. 

"Here we were without any income, 
without a product and without any fund- 
ing, and a court suit we were totally 
unprepared to fight. None of us had even 
been in a courtroom before." 

Worst of all, Molinari explains, was 
what happened to their fund-raising 
efforts: Lawsuits are the kiss of death for 
start-up companies seeking venture capi- 
tal. "Venture capitalists won't invest 
their money in a business whose time 
and energy are tied up with legal trou- 

In fact, Molinari says lawsuits are a 
routine weapon used by established com- 
panies like Analogic to squash new com- 

"They said we took trade secrets," 
begins Molinari, warming up to a heart- 
felt indictment of the legal system. "But 
they wouldn't say what the secrets were. 
How were we supposed to fight that? 
The more nebulous a lawsuit is, the 
tougher it is to defend yourself, because 
there's nothing to take issue with." 

One major software maker, he notes, 
is now suing other software developers, 
saying the new software "has the look 
and feel" of its popular spreadsheet pro- 
gram. "What does that mean? How can 
you defend against that? 

"As every American knows, if you've 
got enough money and enough clout, 
you can tie things up in the court system 
forever. In some cases, the little guy 
ends up winning, but he's injured himself 
so badly in the process he can't recover. 
As the case drags on and on, there's no 
money coming in for the little guy — it's 
the quickest way to put him out of busi- 

"It happens every day in technology 
cases. That's one of the ways that this 
country discourages entrepreneurship. 
People think it's encouraged, but it's not. 
The whole legal system is against the 
entrepreneur— the entrepreneur succeeds 
in spite of it, because of commitment and 

Molinari sweeps his hand to take in 
some of the other hi-tech giants in 
Marlboro's industrial park. "They've all 
got lawsuits going against small compa- 
nies. A judge doesn't know anything 
about these technical matters, so the only 
way to proceed is to hear deliberations. 

That can take years. And the big compa- 
nies are never penalized for frivolous 

"In Japan, this doesn't exist. They 
have 15,000 lawyers versus something 
like 700,000 in the United States. That 
means they have a legal establishment 
equal to just 2 percent of ours." 

Molinari believes that trade secret suits 
should be virtually eliminated in this 
country, since only a tiny percentage, he 

"We succeeded in the most 
important step in any 
venture: We started." 

says, are valid. 

When, after two and a half years, Data 
Translation finally lost its case to Analo- 
gic, Molinari considered it a victory. 
"We finally had them off our backs and 
could get going. We never even knew 
what the trade secret was — it was the 
'look and feel' issue again." 

In the early days of the lawsuit, one of 
Molinari's partners bailed out. "Interest- 
ingly, he was studying to be a lawyer at 
the time," says Molinari with a smile. 
"Maybe he knew things we didn't 

By the end of the legal proceedings, 
Molinari and his partner had slowly built 
up enough of a business to pay off the 
$56,000 judgment against them. Their 
legal fees exceeded the settlement, how- 
ever. "Luckily, the owner of the law firm 
had a hunch that we'd be successful, so 
he took stock instead of cash." Today, 
the lawyer is one of Data Translation's 
largest stockholders. 


here are times to cut every- 
thing to the bone," says 
Molinari, "times to just do the 
best job you can with what's 
available. That's what we did through 
those first couple of years. 

"But you've also got to know when it's 
time to really spend money, when the 
market is ready for the right product. For 
us, that time came in 1976, when a few 
large computer companies started bring- 
ing out single printed circuit board 
microcomputers. This was one of the 
turning points in the computer industry. 
It brought the costs way down and made 
more people aware of computing capa- 
bility. We quickly came out with a line of 

data acquisition boards that fit nicely 
with these computers." 

Sales built dramatically. 

And when the next computer revolu- 
tion, the personal computer, arrived, 
Data Translation was ready for that, too. 

The rest, of course, is simple history. 
It's as simple as the sleek new buildings 
that line Routes 128 and 495 in Massa- 
chusetts and Silicon Valley in California. 
As simple as the millions of computers 
that are now so much a part of our lives. 
Fred Molinari's boards are housed in a 
good chunk of those computers, and 
that's a lot of merchandise. 

Over the years, the company, 
searching for a new and bigger 
home, moved to Natick and, 
finally, to Marlboro. 

But, as the company grew, Molinari's 
own focus narrowed. No longer required 
to be a jack-of-all-trades, he was free for 
a little crystal ball gazing. 

"The job of any head guy," he says, 
"is to figure out what the company is 
going to be doing two or three years from 
now. You always have to be living in the 
future. So what you have to do is unload 
the day-to-day operational responsibili- 
ties and keep looking farther and farther 
into the future." 

What he sees is bright enough to 
require shades. 

You may think we must be close to 
reaching the saturation point with com- 
puters, but Molinari doesn't. "We're 
nowhere near the end. Computers are 
going to be used more and more. And 
everywhere automation takes place, 
they'll be using our products." 

International economics are such these 
days that to ensure the quality that con- 
sumers demand, industry can't rely on 
the human eye and hand anymore, 
Molinari says. "You've got to have com- 
puters bringing things together now, 
you've got to have robots. And our 
image processing boards are eyes for 

Molinari ticks off the examples, from 
automobiles to dental systems to soft 
drink manufacturing. The message is 
clear: Data has only just begun. 

Yet Molinari knows that future busi- 
ness won't be delivered to him on a sil- 
ver platter. Past successes are worth little 
in a world full of hungry young compa- 
nies such as Data once was. 

"You have to stay ahead of the mar- 
Continued on inside back cover 


Essays, portraits, plain 
facts, demographics, and 
even the quirks and 
quackery of growing older. 
Here's a summer anthology on 
the passage of time in our lives, 
from middle age onward. 

AUGUST 1987 I 


on the 
middle years 

Reflections on 
remapping life 
25 years after 


"MIDDLE AGE," wrote Ogden Nash, 
"is when you've met so many people 
that every new person you meet reminds 
you of someone else." A contemporary 
greeting card pilfers Nash's line and 
tacks on, "Old age is when no one you 
meet seems familiar! " 

Or words to that effect. I'd check it, 
but I can't remember where I saw that 

Certain departments of my brain, alas, 
have elected not to wait for old age to 
begin forgetting things I could always 
remember: people's names, the second 
law of thermodynamics, what Mike 
Andrews hit in the '67 World Series, and 
high-impact intellectual words like heu- 
ristic and teleology. 

And that isn't the only dismaying 
aspect of middle-aging. 

In the country of the middle-aged, our 
circle of professional retainers inexora- 
bly expands to include endodontists and 
periodontists as prominent members of 
the support team. Peering into a store 
window we see reflected an ample fore- 
head and deeply etched crow's-feet that 
must be someone else's. They are ours. 
We can't stay up as late as we used to, 

and we need more recovery time after 
going running. In fact we need more 
recovery time after everything. When we 
dine out we begin with Perrier, and after 
the meal we order decaf. With increasing 
frequency we discover the names of 
classmates in the obituary column of our 
college magazine. Many of us have lost 
one or both of our parents. Some have 
lost children. 

So much for the bad news. The better 
news is that, despite our declining physi- 
cal prowess, most of us still have energy 
in abundance. Experience has endowed 
us with an understanding of the complex 
dynamics of change and a sense of How 
Things Get Done. Under the lengthening 
shadow of mortality we have learned to 
use time better, to be more purposeful. 
("As we advance in life, we acquire a 
keener sense of the value of time," wrote 
William Hazlitt in 1827. "Nothing else, 
indeed, seems of any consequence; and 
we become misers in this respect.") But 
we also derive satisfaction from sharing 
our knowledge and skills— with our chil- 
dren, who may not appreciate what we 
have to offer, and with younger co- 
workers, who may. As the children leave 
home we rearrange the furniture of our 
lives to create more space for intimate 
relationships and for social concerns. We 
grow more generous and accepting of 
people's shortcomings, including our 
own. We learn to read from our own 
biographies, and to put what we read to 
use as we remap the balance of our lives. 
Middle age is by no means all bad. As 
Daniel Levinson writes in The Seasons of 
a Man 's Life ( 1982), "The concrete char- 
acter of adult life is one of the best-kept 

secrets in our society, and probably in 
human history generally." 

For those of us who are 25 or 30 years 
out of college, a class reunion provides a 
panoramic grand tour of the country of 
the middle-aged. This summer at my 
own university's commencement, I 
mixed for a while with returning mem- 
bers of the Class of 1962 (which 
describes itself retrospectively as "The 
Last Polite Class" in the history of the 
institution). I am not a member of the 
class— I was born eight years too soon 
for that— but my brother is, and so are a 
number of friends. In the course of their 
five-day reunion I went to a thoughtful 
symposium titled "Safe at Last (?!) in the 
Middle Years," compared notes on aging 
with a variety of experienced hands, and 
skimmed through the buckram-bound 
25th Anniversary Report, which at 999 
pages is longer than John Barth's longest 
novel. It teems with raw data, case histo- 
ries, and apercus served up by members 
of this 1,160-man class, and like pre- 
vious 25th reunion reports, it may consti- 
tute an invaluable resource for future 
contributors to the growing scholarly lit- 
erature on the nature of mid-life. (It's 
unfortunate that most of the existing lit- 
erature is male oriented, but that is start- 
ing to change.) 

"What amazes me is the way we all 
seem to be aging in lockstep," one re- 
unioner told me. Leafing through autobi- 
ographies in the Report, you are struck 
by the reiteration of shared concerns, of 
common perspectives derived from 
diverse experience. 

The theme of mortality overarches 
everything. "I'm getting paid to have 
fun," writes a Boston investment banker, 

All is not joy and computers. My 
father died four years ago; my mother 
died this month. A close friend 
drowned recently. Death is no longer 
impossible. I had bleeding ulcers six 
years ago. I don't take alcohol, nico- 
tine, aspirin, or coffee. I also know a 
lot more about stress and how to han- 
dle it. Mid-life crises are not just a 
psychologist's invention; we all have 
them. Some have better ones than oth- 
ers. I'm not through with mine yet. 

A Chicago lawyer writes: 

My father died [in] January in his 
eightieth year. It made me see things 
differently. Whereas I had always 



"You never know what's going to happen. 
There is no career path. } ' 

"Hubert Humphrey once said 
that the longer he stayed in 
the Senate, the better senior- 
ity looked. As you get older, 
the older people are, the bet- 
ter they look. Once you'd 
think, 'Oh my gosh, 60, 
that's over the hill.' Now you 
say, 'No, I'm just ready for 
another career.' " 

John Gartland's career has 
taken unexpected turns, 
thanks to the success of 
Republican candidates. When 
he graduated from Villanova 
University in 1963, he 
expected to go into business, 
but was swept up in a victori- 
ous Nixon campaign. At 47, 
he is content to be a corporate 
lobbyist and volunteer 
"advance man" for President 
Reagan, arranging details for 
his trips abroad. But he 
delights in the thought that 
his future may turn on an 
election, a phone call, or a 
chance meeting: "You never 
know what's going to happen. 
There is no career path." 

Age is no disadvantage in a 
city where contacts determine 
power. "The lobbyist's point 
of view is the older you are, 
the longer you've been in it, 
the more influence you 
have," he notes. Gartland's 
office, filled with official 
thank-yous, certificates, and 
photographs of presidents, is 
a memorial to two decades of 
work in Washington. 

He believes that fewer 
Americans consider 65 the 
"magic year" when careers 
end and carefree days begin. 

"I think the bloom has 

really come off the rose. I 
think my parents, and people 
in their age bracket, were 
taught, 'You're going to 
retire at 59 or 60, you're not 
going to do anything, and 
you're going to go off to this 
great, wonderful life.' But we 
have seen, taking care of our 
parents, that it's not that great. 

"I am not looking for that 
day of retirement. Yes, when 
I reach 60, and my last child 
is in the class of 2000, then I 
will be a lot freer to do more 
of what I want to do. It may 
be what I'm doing right now. 
But I'm not looking for retire- 
ment, I'm looking fordoing a 
different career." 

Profiles by Julia Ridgely 
Photographs by Peter Howard 

' ^ . ■ - ; ■'.',' .'■■ ■ ■ :-;; 

AUGUST 1987 m 


"For me, the best age is the age that Tm at." 

"Who would want to stay 
22 all their lives? To stay in 
any one area would be bor- 
ing, like living in a climate 
where there's no change of 

Carolyn Scott tends her 
garden in the farmlands out- 
side Westminster, Md., 
few miles from her alma 
mater, Western Maryland 
College. One of her recent 
large-scale projects was 
advising the College on the 
renovation of the McDaniel 
Lounge and its gardens. 

The seasons of life are 
longer than of those in her 
backyard, and her summer 
longest of all. "I see life as 
proceeding in double dec- 
ades. I see 40 to 60 as really 
getting in the beat of life. 

Even 60 to 80 1 think is really 
just getting into the swing of 
things. Eighty may be old, 
but ask me again when I'm 

For ease of living, she 
gives a slight edge to the 
post-30 years: "It is a more 
comfortable time materially." 
But she adds, "For me, the 
best age is the age that I'm at. 
I hope I change my mind next 
year when I'm 42." 

She is looking forward to 
the empty nest syndrome and 
the time to pursue less earthy 
interests like writing and pho- 
tography, and she will proba- 
bly not stop there. 

"It takes me so long to 
learn so little. I'll be old 
when I stop learning and stop 

looked forwards in my life, and up, 
suddenly I stood at the end and looked 
backwards, to where I am now, and 
towards the beginnings. . . . Although 
it should undoubtedly have been old 
news, it came as a shock to me to real- 
ize there are perhaps 25 more good 
years— if I'm as lucky as he was. 
Twenty-five years back, and 25 years 
forward; a good time for a reunion 
report. Mid-life, mid-career, mid-kids, 

And this from the attorney general of a 
Pacific Northwest state: 

The unabated joys of parenthood were 
shattered three years ago when [my 
wife] and I learned that our two beauti- 
ful, bright and cheerful daughters both 
are hostage to a biological time bomb. 

Fanconi anemia, a lethal disorder 
characterized by bone marrow failure, 
strikes most often (in our case totally 
by surprise) in the first decade of a 
child's life. . . .We are told that only a 
bone marrow transplant, for which we 
have no suitable family donor, can 
really promise significant life- 
extending possibilities. 

The authors of these accounts are resil- 
ient survivors, capable of extraordinary 
forthrightness and humility. "I have been 
drowned, poisoned, and rearranged my 
face on a post, which I met at full 
sprint," writes a California designer and 
environmentalist who comes from an old 
Boston family. He adds, "The truth of 
Zen lies somewhere within that space 
between utter joy and excruciating pain, 
and I shall be the better for it. . . ." 

The current life of a New York state 
attorney reflects what Alfred North 
Whitehead called the disorderly charac- 
ter of experience. The lawyer writes: 

I am in at least four "stages of devel- 
opment" at once. My children from a 
previous marriage are 21, 19, 17, and 
15. Barbara and I now have our own 
baby, born October 1, 1985. My oldest 
son . . . has just announced that I will 
be a grandfather. . . . Finally, my 80- 
year-old father, having retired as a 
judge, practices law in my office and, 
when I sometimes find him napping in 
the afternoon, I feel more like a father 
than a son. Am I young? Am I old? Or 
am I just right? ... I feel that life, 
although seldom easy, has given me an 
unexpected second chance for personal 


"Sometimes I wish life would relent," 
admits a visiting professor of education 
at a major private university. "Then I 
look around at us in wonder: If this is the 
price of admission, I'll gladly pay." His 
concluding sentence is: "As I get older, 
I'm more patient about everything but 

This Bildungsroman of middle life 
contains few signs of complacency. 
There are many expressions of willing- 
ness to acknowledge and accept failure, 
but that is not the same thing. Here is 
one, from a geophysicist: 

I work largely on the physics of the 
terrestrial and Venusian stratospheres, 
my latest effort being a speculation on 
the origin of the great Antarctic ozone 
hole. At this writing, it appears to be 

A Massachusetts teacher rejoices in 
"the giddy happiness of my second mar- 
riage," but goes on: 

I consider my life in nearly every other 
respect a failure. It is pretty clear 
now— even I can see it— that I'll never 
pitch in a World Series. . . . What 
remains and matters are several friends 
. . . and this bewildering 10-year 
ecstasy with Sandy. 

Many accounts illuminate a process 
that Levinson calls "reworking the 
dream." Henry Thoreau, an early student 
of life cycles, described it in this way: 
"The youth gets together his materials to 
build a bridge to the moon, or, per- 
chance, a bridge or temple on the earth, 
and, at length, the middle-aged man con- 
cludes to build a woodshed with them." 
An upstate New York university English 
teacher— another who resorts to baseball 
for a metaphor— writes: 

Here I do everything but lit . . . which 
is my chosen career. But they have to 
play me because I am tenured, through 
a series of misadventures illustrating 
that justice gets out of town as often as 
possible on weekends; and so I am a 
lifetime utility infielder in a depart- 
ment needing a .320 Shakespearean 
and a good southpaw deconstruc- 

For some, processes of self-renewal 
have become continual. Writes a Massa- 
chusetts consultant: 

In a way there's a pattern— do things 
that are interesting and new. . . . The 
problems or opportunities [of manage- 
ment consulting] keep changing as do 
the groups. Rarely dull. The rest just 
sort of happens, gets intense, and then 
integrates and finds its place. There 
was a time of running and marathons, 
a time of yoga and reflection. Now it's 
a plane and flying. 

We could go on and on. But let a Cali- 
fornia writer and actor have the last 

Currently, I am happily married. But I 
haven't found God or mastered the 
PC. However, I feel that Jesus and 
IBM are coming soon. 

Suffice it to say that I've spent the 
past 25 years "finding myself." Now, I 

plan to spend the next 25 playing with 
what I've found. 

So much for life. I congratulate the 
survivors. Now, where 's the party?! 

When I finished this omnium- 
gatherum of confessional literature, I 
reread my own submissions to the 25th 
and 30th reunion reports of the Class of 
1954. Because I was not at ease in first- 
person writing, I had adopted a parodic 
self-interview format for these reports. 
"What, another reunion?" I began rhe- 
torically when I wrote in 1984. 

Time marches on, old sport. 
Indeed. And the fractile effects of its 
passage seem more evident now than 
they did five years ago. 

How would you characterize your- 
self at this point? 
On the sill of age. 

A phrase you pinched from Robert 
Fitzgerald's translation of The Odys- 
sey, did you not? 
I might have. 

What preoccupies you at present ? 
Mourning lost innocence. Not mine. 

Can you think of anything to be bull- 
ish about? 

Word processing! Bach, Haydn, 
Mozart, Schubert, Brahms. My wife's 
smile. In point of fact I've been lucky. 

Say something about the future. 
Come the next reunion, I hope to have 
seen two of my three offspring into and 
out of college, run a few more mara- 
thons, and read all the novels of Dick- 

And after that? 
A happy retirement, in Cloud-Cuckoo 

I regret writing "fractile" and that 
mawkish bit about innocence. As to the 
rest, the college projections are on tar- 
get. The marathons are behind schedule, 
but there is time yet. Halfway through 
Little Dorrit as I write this, I still have 
Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cit- 
ies, Our Mutual Friend, and The Mystery 
of Edwin Drood to savor before starting 
all over with The Pickwick Papers. A 
wonderful novel, by a very young 
author, about a middle-aged man and his 

John T. Bethell is editor o/Harvard Mag- 
azine. He took up competitive running at 
the age of 45 and has since completed 
127 road races, including six marathons. 

AUGUST 1987 V 

Lifestyky illness 


'Use it or lose it' often 
turns out to be good 
advice for both body 
and mind. Many 
physical changes 
are simply a part of 
aging, but others 
may signal disease. 

By Peggy Eastman 
Photos by 
William Denison 

The alert mind can 
be honed well into 
old age. What many 
call senility could 
be a temporary 
lapse in memory 
related to stress. 

It starts with small things: a crinkly 
relief map at the outer corner of the 
eyes, a graying that spreads from the 
temples to the crown, an inability to 
remember just where those car keys 
went. We think to ourselves, "I must be 
getting old." 

We all age, but at our own pace. Peo- 
ple don't experience clockwork-timed 
changes that say now you're 50, now 
you're 60, now it's time to retire. One 
person might have the equivalent of a 70- 
year-old heart in a 50-year-old body. 
Conversely, Jane Fonda in her early 50s 
seems to maintain the physique of a 
woman of 40. "There are extraordinarily 
'young' 80-year-olds, along with 
extraordinarily 'old' 40-year-olds," 
noted one study of 1 ,000 volunteers over 
a 23-year period. Known as the Balti- 
more Longitudinal Study of Aging 
(BLSA), this project began by looking at 
healthy men aged 17 to 96 (women were 
added to the study about a decade ago). 
So far, it has found far more physical, 
mental, and emotional differences 
among a group of randomly selected 
people over 65 than among a group of 
younger adults. 

But in the field of gerontology, such 
studies are rather rare, for it is a specialty 
in its youth. The National Institute on 
Aging (NIA) was not even established 
until 1974. 

"The state of research on aging is 
quite primitive— yet aging could turn out 
to be far more complex than cancer," 
notes Rene J. Herrera, a Worcester Poly- 
technic Institute (WPI) biotechnology 
professor who is attempting to unlock 
secrets of aging on a cellular level. Two 
factors spurring more basic research, he 
explains, are "the scientific realization 
that we know so little about aging, plus 
the political realization that the percent- 
age of people in the aging brackets is 
increasing— and all of these people still 
will have the right to vote." 

In recent years, this escalation in the 
numbers of elderly has prompted a far 
higher priority on treating age-related 

maladies. Health care professionals can, 
for instance, unblock or detour clogged 
arteries, replace arthritically crippled fin- 
ger joints with synthetic implants, and 
train the incontinent to achieve better 
muscle control. 

In sorting out what is normal aging and 
what is abnormal, medical professionals 
are shedding light on how the lifestyle 
choices we make affect our longevity. 
Wellness programs and preventive medi- 
cine emphasize personal decision mak- 
ing in balancing risks, although there is 
plenty of conflicting evidence to make 
such decisions bewildering at times. 

In general, normal aging may be 
viewed as a loss of adaptation to the 
environment, suggests J. Grimley 
Evans, a physician specializing in 
geriatric medicine in Oxford, England. 
Men and women in their 70s, even when 
not suffering from disease, still will not 
be able to run as fast, see as clearly, or 
hear as acutely as they did at age 25. 
Reaction times and reflexes slow down. 
"You're not as likely to get your hand 
out, so you fall over and break your hip," 
he adds. He proposes setting up physical 
training programs to help the elderly 
improve their protective responses. 

Many individuals later in life experi- 
ence a sense of losing control of their 
lives, which all too often turns into 
learned helplessness, notes Dr. John 
Campbell, professor of psychology at 
Franklin and Marshall College. "They 
develop the expectancy that they cannot 
control outcomes, and so they don't even 
try." They will tell themselves that they 
did poorly at a task because they have a 
terrible memory, when the fault might be 
elsewhere. One approach to help over- 
come this is "giving people situations 
they can control" to build up their confi- 

Exercise and diet can modify— but not 
entirely block— the changes the body 
undergoes in aging. From BLSA data, 
for example, we know that the propor- 


md longevity 

tion of lean body mass (muscle tissue) to 
total body weight drops with age, while 
the percentage of fat increases. What 
other physiological changes are normal? 

As we add on years, 
we often add on 
weight. But for the 
obese, it's better 
to be shaped like a 
pear than to have a 
pot belly. 

Old bones and new tissue 

In aging, the body's framework of 206 
bones loses density, especially in post- 
menopausal women. Bone is far from 
dead: It is living tissue in a constant state 
of recycling. Breakdown cells called 
osteoclasts destroy old bone so that it can 
be reabsorbed into the body, while osteo- 
blasts help to build new bone tissue. 
Bones no longer lengthen after the body 
has reached its full height, but the 
remodeling process must continue for 
bones to be strong, dense, and healthy. 
When more bone tissue is lost than 
replaced, osteoporosis— the brittle bone 
disease — results. Women with osteo- 
porosis (often with the characteristic 

"dowager's hump") become stooped 
over as their weakened vertebrae col- 
lapse and their bones break easily. More 
than half of American women over age 
45 will experience osteoporosis, as will 
90 percent of those over age 75 . 

Heart and blood vessels 

As changes occur in muscle mass and the 
skeletal framework, the heart and circu- 
latory system gradually decline from 
their maximum aerobic potential. In 
practical terms, healthy, well-con- 
ditioned 65-year-olds may still be able to 
play a good game of singles tennis, but 
they may tire after one or two sets rather 
than the three in a row they had played 
20 years before. 

Chronological age doesn't predict 
heart function, but the cardiovascular 
system does exhibit age-related changes. 
Among them are a stiffening of arteries, 
hardening of the aorta, and impairment 
of the ventricles' capacity to relax after 
pumping blood, notes Nanette K. 
Wenger of the Emory University School 
of Medicine. Older people are more 
likely to experience severe atherosclero- 
sis, ultimately leading to heart attacks 
and strokes. Both chronic high blood 
pressure and the low pressure that causes 
faintness (orthostatic hypotension) often 
become more severe in older people. 

Older and wiser? 

A sharp intellect can be honed and exer- 
cised well into old age. But the perfor- 
mance of older people on tests measuring 
verbal learning and memory tends to 
decline, especially if such tests are given 
at a fast pace, the Baltimore longitudinal 
study shows. Its authors theorize that 
each passing year may result in a slightly 
lowered performance, or that some 
threshold level of decline in the brain has 
to be reached, or that a milestone event 
must occur (such as worsening of athero- 
sclerosis) before the lowered level of 
intellectual performance is noticed. 

For those who continue to pursue intel- 
lectually stimulating activities, these 

changes in the brain's physiology may be 
so subtle that they are hardly recognized. 

Forget! ulness and senility 

Senility, far from inevitable, too often is 
a "wastebasket" diagnosis, in the words 
of Robert N. Butler, former director of 
the Washington, D.C. -based NIA. True 
senility is a disease resulting from a pro- 
gressive loss of brain cells, which can 
never be replaced. What many call senil- 
ity might more accurately be termed a 
temporary lapse in memory. 

"We use the term 'benign senescent 
forgetfulness' to discriminate between 
ordinary forgetfulness and organic brain 
disease," says May L. Wykle, acting 
director of the Center on Aging and 
Health at Case Western Reserve Univer- 
sity, where she's also professor of psy- 
chiatric mental health nursing at the 
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nurs- 
ing. "Benign senescent forgetfulness is 
common after the late 40s, although peo- 

Sfaying actively 
involved gives you 
an edge later on. 
Regular exercise 
can help to modify 
some physiological 
changes of aging. 

pie complain of it earlier than that. It 
means forgetting where you put your 
glasses, forgetting the names of people 
you run into, parking your car and get- 
ting panicked because there are so many 
cars out there in the lot and you can't 
remember where yours is." 

Those kinds of lapses may be a reac- 
tion to "life overload." Bit by bit, we 
seem to get too much information, too 
much complexity, too much responsibil- 
ity, says Wykle. "This is part of normal 

The graying of 
the globe 

By the year 2030, some 17 to 20 percent 
of the American population will be over 
65, compared to 4 percent in 1900. 
Those over 85 are the fastest growing 
population segment . 

Until recently, problems of the oldest 
group of the elderly were thought of pri- 
marily as the province of women. But in 
the past few years the sex gap in longev- 
ity has fallen from eight to about seven 
years, according to the U.S. Department 
of Health and Human Services. The nar- 
rowing of the gap is attributed in part to 
escalating rates for lung cancer in 

While the United States is experienc- 
ing an unprecedented explosion in the 
over-65 group, other industrialized 
nations are also facing the enormous 
medical, social, and economic implica- 
tions of a graying society. 

But the challenge is truly a global one. 
Until recently, this longevity explosion 
was considered to be mainly a phenome- 
non of industrialized countries. How- 
ever, around 1980 the number of older 
people in developing nations began to 
catch up, according to a study at Flinders 
University of South Australia. By the 
year 2000, there will be 229 million peo- 
ple over age 65 in developing nations 
compared to 167 million in the industri- 
alized world. This large population of 
older people in the Third World will 
strain the scarce medical and economic 
resources of struggling nations and the 
countries that lend them money. 

By the year 2025, the world will have 
1 . 1 billion people aged 60 or over. In 
China, the population in that age bracket 
alone will exceed the entire population of 
the United States. —Peggy Eastman 

stress. As you get older, you have many 
more things to do. People get panicky 
because they think it's Alzheimer's dis- 
ease, but it probably isn't." 

One of the most publicized forms of 
dementia, Alzheimer's disease now 
afflicts an estimated 1.5 million Ameri- 
cans severely, 1 to 5 million moderately. 
By the year 2000, the number of 
Alzheimer's patients is expected to jump 
60 percent. 

Physicians aren't sure of its causes, 
although evidence is mounting for an 
infectious virus and some kind of genetic 
trigger. One theory points to an abnor- 
mality on chromosome 21 as a cause of 
both Down's syndrome and Alzheimer's 
disease. In fact, almost all people with 
Down's syndrome who live past 40 
develop Alzheimer's disease. Other theo- 
ries blame as a key factor an injury to the 
blood-brain barrier, thus permitting 
harmful substances to enter the brain. 

Another promising clue about the 
cause of Alzheimer's disease comes from 
research into amyloid, a "marker" pro- 
tein found abundantly in the brains of 
Alzheimer's patients— and in those of 
aging monkeys, apes, dogs, and polar 
bears. Amyloid is linked to distinctive, 
abnormal clusters of nerve cells. While 
nonhuman mammals don't develop 
Alzheimer's disease, those with heavy 
concentrations of amyloid show memory 
loss and some behavioral changes (such 
as confusion) similar to those in human 
patients. "This similarity in amyloid lev- 
els provides a strong biochemical con- 
nection with which to investigate the bio- 
logical basis for memory impairment," 
explains Donald L. Price, director of the 
Johns Hopkins University Alzheimer's 
Disease Research Center and a professor 
of pathology, neurology, and neurosci- 
ence at the Hopkins Medical Institutions. 
He is part of a team of researchers from 
the center and from Harvard University 
who recently reported on their findings. 

Hormonal changes 

Old age also modifies the body's endo- 
crine system, including glands that 
secrete hormones, the complex com- 
pounds that act directly on or stimulate 
other organs to regulate physiological 
changes. These changes were once 
thought to be linked to a decline in the 
number of hormone receptors on the cell 
surface, making aging cells less respon- 
sive to hormones. But research during 
the past decade has shown that a hor- 
mone can penetrate a cell's surface. 

Here again, some symptoms may indi- 
cate disease while others are evidence of 
normal aging. Older men and women are 
more susceptible to diabetes mellitus, a 
metabolic disorder related to the use of 
insulin. However, old age frequently 
brings higher blood sugar levels — older 
bodies tend to lose the ability to use 
sugar efficiently. Diabetes, in fact, has 
been described as accelerated aging 
because some of its complications- 
cataracts, stiffness in joints, and 
atherosclerosis — are common in the 
elderly. Recently, the official guidelines 
for determining diabetes were revised. 
As a result, fewer elderly are being 
incorrectly diagnosed as diabetic and 
needlessly put on insulin. 

In women, the normal cessation of 
menstruation is related to a drop in estro- 
gen, sometimes resulting in osteoporosis 
and a tightening and drying of vaginal 
tissues. Men don't go through a normal, 
hormonal change comparable to meno- 
pause, but they are subject to an age- 
related enlargement of the prostate 
gland, an endocrine disorder often 
requiring surgery. However, healthy 
older men maintain the same levels of 
testosterone as do healthy young men, 
studies from the NIA's Gerontology 
Research Center have shown. 

Eyes and ears 

A gradual decline in hearing is an 
expected part of aging: About half of 
Americans over 65 will suffer from pres- 
bycusis, according to the NIA. Distance 
vision, too, commonly decreases with 
age, yet elderly people with no eye dis- 
ease can maintain reasonably good visual 
acuity (20/40 or better) into their 80s, 
according to the BLSA. 

One example of an age-related eye dis- 
ease is senile macular degeneration, a 
disorder of the ocular blood vessels that 
primarily afflicts people over 50. Until 
recently, this was the culprit in about 
16,000 new cases of blindness every 
year, or 17 percent of all new cases of 
blindness among Americans. Today an 
estimated 90 percent of such cases can be 
treated with an argon laser beam that 
seals leaky blood vessels in the eye 
through photocoagulation, pioneered at 

The cellular level 

Overall, the incidence of such chronic 
diseases as osteoporosis, arthritis, car- 
diovascular disease, and cancer goes up 
with age. Some 80 percent of Americans 



"The more you know, the better you get." 

"Everything's got its 
moments," Bill Evitts says, 
"though I wouldn't consider 
much before college. High 
school is a vastly overrated 

Evitts enjoyed every stage 
of his academic career, from 
college through graduate 
school and teaching college- 
level Southern history: "I 
liked it as much the day 
I walked away as the day I 

But he had reached 
the point "where you either 
speed up and become a senior 
person, or you hit some kind 
of burnout and make some 
changes. I got lucky; some- 
thing fell on me. I turned in a 
tenured professorship and, on 
very short notice, moved my 
family back to Baltimore." 

As Johns Hopkins Univer- 
sity's director of alumni rela- 
tions, he sees a steady proces- 
sion of stages in his life. He 
speaks fondly of the charms 
of college, a first job, a new 
family. Though the proces- 
sion seems orderly, he warns, 
"Time seems to compress as 
you get older. This has been 
accelerated for me by the fact 
that my son is starting at 
Hopkins in the fall, and he's 
going through some experi- 
ences that I can vividly 
remember myself, except that 
now it's my own son . 

"It's sometimes less diffi- 
cult to cope with the reality of 
being, say, 45 rather than 35, 
than it is to cope with your 
perceptions of yourself. You 
keep thinking of yourself as 
26 or 18, and sometimes you 
get into trouble by trying to 
do things physically that you 
really should back off on, or 
being shattered by the realiza- 
tion that you don't look like 
you used to." 

At the same time, he does 
not necessarily find a sense of 
perspective comforting: "It is 
a little scary to be able to look 
that far back and that far for- 

ward. I suspect that people in 
their 40s are more wired up 
and uptight about this than 
people in their 60s. Life's like 
the humanities: the more you 

know, the better you get. If 
you don't let yourself harden, 
you're going to in many 
senses get better and better 
and better." 



"Many of the people we canoe with are not 
much older than our kids." 

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Donald J . Tyrrell took up 
Whitewater canoeing because 
"my wife made me sell my 
motorcycle, and I had some 
spare money, so I bought a 

"The last hobby she and I 
both had was modern danc- 
ing, and before that it was 
jogging, and before that it 
was working, and youth." 
Long before that, it was kin- 
dergarten, where they met. 

During the week, Tyrrell 
studies infant development in 

the psychology labs of Frank- 
lin and Marshall College. 
Every weekend that he and 
his wife can get away, they're 
on the Cheat, the Ocoee, the 
Nantahala, or one of a dozen 
other rivers within a day's 
drive from Lancaster, Pa. 

"Many of the people whom 
we canoe with regularly are 
not that much older than our 
kids," Tyrrell says. He gets 
stares, offers of help, and 
eventually respect from them, 
and tries to make converts 
among their parents. "They 
say, 'Nah, I'm too old for 
that stuff— but then they 
meet us and we're as old, if 
not older than, they are." 

Tyrrell tries to fit in as 
much of his favorite sport as 
he can, recognizing that, at 
the age of 52, he may not be 
far from the time when he 
will no longer want to spend 
his weekends shooting over 
sharp rocks in a wet boat. But 
then, he estimates, he has 
about 20 years to go in his 
research on infant develop- 

"The hot, new stuff that I 
learned in graduate school is 
now no longer even covered 
in the intra psychology text- 
book," he says. "I am not as 
expert on the hot, new things 
as the kids coming out of 
graduate school are. But they 
don't have the context in 
which to embed that, they 
don't have the historical 
development, they don't 
know what's been tried and 
has not worked. The young 
kids think the new informa- 
tion is all there is." 

over 65 years old have a chronic disabil- 
ity. About 27 percent have heart disease 
and 44 percent experience arthritis. This 
rising tide of disability may be at least 
partly due to an age-related decline in 
ability of some cells to reproduce, an 
impairment that also interferes with the 
healing of wounds and the functioning of 
the immune system. 

Support for a "cellular rundown" the- 
ory of aging, based on the idea that cells 
have a limited lifespan and functional 
capacity, comes from the work of micro- 
biologist Leonard Hayflick, now at the 
University of Florida. His earlier work at 
the Wistar Institute led to a widely 
accepted model, known as the Hayflick 
limit, to describe this finite number of 
doublings for normal cells cultured in a 
laboratory. Even if our age's major dis- 
eases were eliminated, a human would 
still have a life span of no more than 
about 115 years because of this cellular 
limit, he has written. Not only do normal 
cultured cells have a finite number of 
doublings, but they even "remember"— 
perhaps with a kind of molecular 
chronometer— that level, even when fro- 
zen for years. When thawed, they pick 
up where they left off in replicating until 
they reach this limit. Hayflick has found 
that occurring in human cells frozen for 
as long as 25 years. 

Normal human cells cultured in a labo- 
ratory double about 50 times and then 
die, explains Rene Herrera, the WPI pro- 
fessor of biotechnology. Cells from an 
elderly person— approaching this Hay- 
flick limit— undergo far fewer doublings 
than do those from a baby. There's an 
inverse relationship, in fact, between the 
age of the donor and the doubling poten- 
tial of human lung and skin fibroblasts 
and certain other cells. 

Cells as they age tend to accumulate 
excess or inaccurate genetic material. In 
seeking to code the genetic program for 
aging, Herrera studies the expression of 
certain types of ribonucleic acid (RNA) 
called small nuclear RNAs or snRNAs, 
which are known to edit this material. 
These molecules, which rid the gene of 
information not used in protein produc- 
tion and splice together the remaining 
message, play an important part in the 
normal functioning of the cell. Perhaps, 
Herrera theorizes, aging may be related 
to a loss, increase, or malfunction of 
these 10 or 20 types of snRNAs. Gene 
products must be spliced to produce pro- 
teins, essential for regulating metabo- 
lism. So in making even very small mod- 



"I had the best time of my life turning 30" 

One summer Judy Strauss 
Schwartz decided she wanted 
to get a job with a program 
for blind children. 

"My mother said to me, 'I 
think before you do that you 
should get a volunteer job; 
you've never worked with the 
blind.' " So Schwartz made 
her case to a placement coun- 
selor at the Westchester Vol- 
unteer Bureau: 

"I went through my whole 
list of why I work 
with blind children, and she 
said 'How old are you?' I 

said, ' 16.' " Unfortunately, 
volunteers had to be of col- 
lege age. "I told her, 'You 
have to give me a chance.' I 
talked myself into it. She 
hired me, and I loved it. I 
worked with kids from ages 6 
to 16— some were my age, 
but they thought I was one of 
the college students. The next 
year, I headed all their col- 
lege volunteers." 

After years of teaching 
blind students mobility— the 
art of being able to cross 
streets or take train trips 

unassisted — she became de- 
velopment and community 
relations coordinator for the 
New York Institute for Spe- 
cial Education. As head of 
Case Western Reserve Uni- 
versity's New York alumni 
chapter, she organizes events 
like the annual get-together 
when the Cleveland Sym- 
phony comes to Carnegie 

"The only birthday I 
remember being really terri- 
ble was 19.1 didn't like being 
19. But since then, life has 

been very good. I think the 
only thing that's gone by very 
fast is our marriage. It's hard 
to believe it's seven years. 
"People always told me 
that turning 30 would be trau- 
matic, but I had the best time 
of my life turning 30. 1 spent 
two weeks partying. Thirty- 
five sort of came and went. 
Ed gave me a bicycle, and 
bought himself one. People 
say, 'What will you feel like 
when you're 40?' and I say , 
' I'll probably party like I did 
when I was 30.' " 



"The old adage still holds— so little time, so much to do" 

The wing of the Flying Tiger 
aircraft that hangs in the 
National Air and Space 
Museum, the steel structure 
of Washington's RFK sta- 
dium, and bridges and build- 
ings across the country are 
the visible trail left by John 
Scalvi. Now 7 1 , the civil 
engineer has alighted in the 
earthquakes and volcanoes 
division of the National Sci- 

ence Foundation. It was the 
latest in a series of career 
moves that seem less abrupt 
for being spread between the 
Depression, when Scalvi 
graduated from Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute, and the 

"I came to government 
with the idea that I was get- 
ting into a new area, although 
at that time I was pretty well 

along in years. And you 
might ask, was I afraid? I 
didn't really give it a thought. 
I took the opportunity as it 

"Fifteen years is long 
enough in a given area," he 
has decided. "When I look 
back now, my teaching career 
was about 15 years, my in- 
dustry career was about 12, 
and now I'm in government, 

and I'm in my 16th year 

It's understandably hard for 
Scalvi to pick a high point, 
but he says his favorite years 
may have been those he spent 
in the steel industry. 

"The nice part was that my 
wife was able to accompany 
me and we had the opportu- 
nity to visit almost every state 
in the country. Plus, we were 
at the peak of our health. The 
kids were off, and then they 
were married, so we didn't 
have to worry. I'm only 12 
hours older than my wife. We 
were born in two small towns 
in Massachusetts. I was born 
before midnight, she was 
born after midnight." 

He spends a lot of time 
now trying to convince fac- 
ulty and students who spe- 
cialize in narrow fields and 
who are infatuated with com- 
puters that great opportunities 
exist in civil engineering. 

"Oddly enough, I have to 
suggest new things to some of 
these young people. They 
want to do what they've been 
doing, and they don't see the 
broad picture or the need. 

"I hate to use the word 
challenging, because every- 
one says 'challenging,' but 
it's something that has to be 
done," Scalvi says of his mis- 
sion. "The nation needs it, 
and people should be getting 
into it. So it's as though I just 
graduated with a B.S. degree. 

"The old adage still 
holds— so much to be done, 
so little time." 

ifications in cellular functioning and 
reproduction, these molecules could 
have a rather large impact on metabo- 
lism. While that would seem to point to a 
genetic cause of aging, he cautions, "It's 
impossible to tackle the question of 
whether it's environmental or genetic." 

Of course it is not yet possible to alter 
the genetic code to extend life. But even 
common sense tells us that toxic wastes, 
spoiled food, and cigarette smoke could 
have similar effects. For someone whose 
genes are particularly susceptible, such 
environmental factors can hasten certain 

diseases linked to aging. 

New evidence for an environmental 
and genetic linkage comes from the field 
of rheumatology, the study of arthritic 
diseases. Following a 1985 spring out- 
break of food poisoning in Chicago 
caused by Salmonella bacteria borne in 


milk, researchers at the University of 
Michigan identified a type of arthritis 
they call reactive arthritis syndrome. 
About 5 percent of the approximately six 
million people each year who get Salmo- 
nella food poisoning will later develop 
arthritis — often within the year, says 
Michigan's Robert W. Ike. Other studies 
on reactive arthritis have shown that 
those 5 percent all seem to have the same 
tissue type (called HLA-B27 to describe 
its genetic arrangement of proteins). 
"Our hypothesis is that B27 proteins may 
interact with a similar protein in bacteria 

to cause reactive arthritis syndrome," 
explains David T.Y. Yu, an associate 
professor at the University of California 
at Los Angeles. 

Stay active and alert 

If aging is due to a cellular limit, then 
wouldn't a decrease in activity help to 
save wear-and-tear and give cells their 
best chance to multiply and thrive? Not 
so, according to many studies on physi- 
cal activity and aging. Doctors know, 
from studies of bed-bound invalids and 
astronauts in weightless conditions, that 

forced inactivity is the fastest route to 
premature aging. The advice to "use it or 
lose it" seems to be valuable for just 
about every part of the body and mind. 

Regular, vigorous exercise, along with 
boosting the efficiency of the heart and 
lungs, can increase high-density lipopro- 
tein cholesterol, known as the "good" 
cholesterol because it offers some pro- 
tection against heart attacks. Exercise 
can also lower the concentration of tri- 
glycerides, the fatty substances that are 
the culprits in atherosclerosis, note 
Andrew P. Goldberg and co-workers at 

Myths and facts 

about life-lengthening fads 

Potions and incantations, rituals and 
exotic remedies, used to be mainstays of 
trying to stave off old age. Legends and 
literature told of fabled fountains of 
youth and lands promising a detour 
around death and debilitation. While an 
elixir still eludes us, science has taken up 
where the alchemists left off. 

In many an age past, the gullible could 
take their choice from an enticing array 
of quackery and quirky promises. For 
instance James Graham earned a fortune 
in London in the 1780s by purveying a 
dozen quite costly medicines at his Tem- 
ple of Health. 

His "Aetherial Ambrosial Quintes- 
sence" was guaranteed to have been 
manufactured in the "Adepti-Alchyrical 
Medico-Electrical and Philosophic 
Apparatus." This marvelous metallic, 
glass, and magnetic contraption, pro- 
nounced Graham, was "infinitely supe- 
rior to anything that now is or ever was 
in the world." 

At his temple, those so inclined could 
sleep on the "Grand Celestial or 
Magnetic-Electrico Bed." Forty pillars 
of glass supported the 12-by-9-foot 
frame and its dome, fragrant with spices 
and essences. Groups of figures on the 
dome held aloft flutes, kettledrums, 
oboes, and other instruments that "by the 
most expensive mechanism, breath(ed) 
forth sound," the advertisement assured 
the public. Such a rejuvenation cost the 
astronomical sum of 50 British pounds a 
night. "It may even have been worth it," 
muses David P. Barash in Aging: An 

Exploration, his engaging book melding 
mythology and biology. 

In our own age, the yearning for a 
magic potion to slow down aging 
remains strong, though the strategies and 
substances have changed dramatically. 
The trouble is, no one has yet found a 
way to circumvent the fate nature 
intends. But research is uncovering some 
fascinating avenues along with the dead 
end streets. 

• Dietary antioxidants. Proponents of 
the "free-radical" theory of aging sug- 
gest that by-products of chemical reac- 
tions damage cells beyond repair during 
normal metabolism. To block "free radi- 
cals," those short-lived oxygen mole- 
cules, they are looking into certain anti- 
oxidant substances — among them 
vitamins A, C, and E and the mineral 

To date, there's no agreement on how 
much of a role free radicals play in 
aging, though it's a promising area in 
research. Nor is there agreement on 
whether an antioxidant regimen can 
extend life, or, if it can, what the daily 
dosage should be. In fact, large quanti- 
ties of vitamin A and selenium can be 
highly toxic. 

• Superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD, 
present in most cells, is the scavenger 
that mops up the free radicals. This natu- 
rally occurring enzyme, which seems to 
protect cells from damage, is more active 
in long-lived species than in those with 
shorter life spans. Could SOD extend 
life? Proof has yet to emerge. SOD sup- 
plements, sold over-the-counter, are of 
little use since the protein in SOD breaks 
down during digestion and the cells can't 
reassemble it. 

However, scavenger drugs that block 
free radicals are being tested for use in 
human organ transplants, where the rush 
of blood back into an organ after surgery 
overwhelms the cell's scavenger system. 

• Calorie-restricted diets. In the 1930s, 
Clive M. McCay reported that undernu- 
trition (30 to 50 percent fewer calories 
than normal) could extend the life span 
of rats, leading to speculation that it 
might do the same in humans. The rats, 
fed such a diet since infancy, showed 
stunted growth but stronger immune sys- 
tems. Naturally, there's been no interest 
in producing a nation of hungry, growth- 
retarded children in the uncertain hope 
that they might live longer. 

• Gerovital -H 3 . This is a salt solution of 
the pain killer procaine (Novocain) and 
stabilizing agents. Ana Asian of Roma- 
nia has heavily promoted Gerovital-H 3 to 
slow down the bodily changes accompa- 
nying aging. She runs a state-supported 
rejuvenation clinic visited by Charles de 
Gaulle and Marlene Dietrich, among 
other hopefuls. But the procaine hydro- 
chloride is primarily an anti-depressant 
and an anesthetic. If you're glum, it may 
make you cheerier. But younger? 

• Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). 
Produced in the adrenal gland, this hor- 
mone is found in higher concentrations 
in the blood of younger people than of 
elderly ones. DHEA is hardly detectable 
in those age 70. In studies, rats given 
DHEA supplements tend to live longer, 
but there is no convincing evidence to 
suggest that taking DHEA supplements 
can extend human life. 

—Peggy Eastman and 
Donna Shoemaker 


the Francis Scott Key Medical Center at 
Hopkins. They have shown that the nor- 
mal age-related decline in maximum aer- 
obic performance can vary. Armchair 
sitters may lose up to 10 percent per dec- 
ade, while highly trained master athletes 
might show only a 5 percent loss over the 
same period. Exercise also stimulates 
glucose receptors in the muscles, thereby 
cutting down on the amount of sugar in 
the blood stream and on the chance of 
developing diabetes. 

But exercise has to be continued over a 
lifetime to keep its protective edge. 
Middle-aged and older athletes who con- 
tinue to train as competitive runners have 
an oxygen intake capacity 50 percent or 

more higher than that of ex-athletes of 
the same age who have stopped training, 
says Claude J.M. L'Enfant, director of 
the National Heart, Lung, and Blood 

Calcium and estrogen are frequently 
prescribed to strengthen bone mass in 
women. But might exercise also protect 
against osteoporosis by stimulating bone 
tissue turnover and building up bone 
density? To study that question, Chris- 
topher Ruff, a Hopkins anatomist at Key, 
is comparing the bones of aging female 
beagles who run five hours a week on a 
treadmill with a control group of age- 
matched sedentary beagles. In human 
years, the dogs are between 65 and 80. 

Tanning: Is it 
a fading trend? 

What prompts the desire for a glorious 
tan? The social pressure to look young. 
What makes skin look old? Too much 
exposure to the sun. Hmnrai. There's a 
Catch-22 to catching some rays. 

For an office-bound worker, a tan con- 
jures up looking healthy, feeling relaxed, 
and managing well enough to have jetted 
off to Jamaica. Another often cited justi- 
fication for tanning is to pump up pro- 
duction of vitamin D, though low levels 
of sunshine will do that nicely. 

Even in summer, fans flock to tanning 
booths. Why? "Before they go on vaca- 
tion, they like to build up a tan in a con- 
trolled fashion," suggests Paul Strick- 
land. But the Johns Hopkins School of 
Public Health assistant professor and 
environmental health researcher would 
prefer that tanners seek some cover 

Tanning is the skin's attempt to shield 
itself from ultraviolet radiation (IJV);sun 
screens serve the same function. Tanning 
results when the epidermis steps up pro- 
duction of melanin, the brown or black 
pigment designed to absorb harmful 
rays. But overexposure to UV rays can 
be carcinogenic. "The majority of non- 
melanoma skin cancers are associated 
with sun exposure," Strickland says. 
And, he adds, epidemiological evidence 
seems to be mounting to indict the sun as 
an agent in melanoma as well. 

He believes there's a new culprit 
indoors: the ultraviolet light bulbs used 

in tanning lamps, which produce UVA 
radiation. Thus he suggests more regula- 
tion of tanning studios, many of which, 
ironically, are located in health spas. 

Five or 10 years ago, UVB bulbs were 
used in most tanning lamps, but have 
been replaced by UVAs, thought to be 
safer. "It takes a much higher exposure 
to UVA to induce suntan and tissue dam- 
age," Strickland says. But in his tests on 
albino mice (which are not susceptible to 
melanoma), UVA rays produced cancer- 
ous lesions. 

UVA rays are the long-wave-length 
rays closest to the visible light spectrum; 
they range from 320 to 400 nanometers 
(nm). At the Earth's surface, 95 percent 
of UV rays are type A, while only 5 per- 
cent are mid-length B type, 280 to 320 
nm. UVC rays, the third kind at 200 to 
280 nm, are the shortest and most haz- 
ardous ultraviolet ray. But UVC rays 
don't pass through the protective ozone 
layer to reach the beach. "This is the 
reason why the ozone layer is so 
important— it's absorbing everything 
below 290 nm," he explains. 

UV rays destroy certain proteins in the 
skin that give it elasticity. When the pro- 
tein breaks down, the skin begins to look 
like leather. "The appearance of the skin 
is the major factor we use to visually 
assess the age of an adult. An individual 
who works outdoors in a hot, dry climate 
can look 20 years older," Strickland 

But the paler look may be having a 
revival. Says Strickland, "the impression 
I have is that the trend might be swinging 
back. A lot of people are beginning to 
realize the dangers." 

—Donna Shoemaker 

The bones of beagles are almost identical 
to human bones in histological structure 
and mechanical properties, says Ruff, 
assistant professor of cell biology and 
anatomy and an orthopedic surgeon. In 
earlier studies (using younger animals), 
exercise led to a 20 to 30 percent 
increase in localized bone mass. 

In this second phase of the study, 
every five months the researchers take 
computer-assisted measurements on the 
loads and stresses on the beagle bones to 
determine changes in shape and density. 
The study is also testing other potential 
causes of osteoporosis, including lower 
levels of estrogen, calcium, and parathy- 
roid hormone. The results might help to 
provide the answer to whether regular, 
load-bearing exercise strengthens the 
structure of bones and aids in preventing 
hip fractures. 

Weighing in for life 

Proper diet, along with exercise, can 
slow some age-related changes in the 
body. Eating too much of the wrong 
foods— a common American habit— puts 
fat on the frame and fat in the blood 
stream. But the concept of ideal weight 
has been shaken of late. No one can say 
for sure what obesity is, although the 
American Heart Association and the 
National Cancer Institute do agree that 
the obese are at risk for heart disease and 

The controversy heated up when 
Reubin Andres, a Hopkins professor of 
medicine, analyzed data on the relation- 
ship between body weight and life span. 
In general, he found that healthy people 
who weigh 10 to 15 percent more than 
the previously set "ideal weight" (as 
defined by the widely used 1959 Metro- 
politan Life Insurance Company charts) 
tend to outlive other underweight or 
average adults. In 1983, Metropolitan 
Life revised its "ideal weight" charts 
upward, a step criticized by some physi- 
cians who remain convinced that thinner 
is healthier. 

"The basic contention of my 'conten- 
tious concept' is that it seems to be 
appropriate to gain weight as you grow 
older," says Andres, who also is clinical 
director of the NIA Gerontology 
Research Center at Key. "The question 
is, is it more important what your choles- 
terol is or whether you live or die? 
Would you rather be alive with a high 
cholesterol or dead with a low choles- 

Andres takes a philosophical view of 


Many people have asked Mil- 
laid Milburn Rice how he has 
lived to be almost 93. Though 
he respectfully credits his 
ancestors, he puts more faith 
in a lesson he learned years 

"I spent 13 years in a little 
mining town 7,000 feet up in 
the Colorado Rockies, recov- 
ering from an ailment result- 
ing from my service in World 
War I. He had been a student 
at Western Maryland College 
when the war broke out. 

"I knew that my chance of 
recovery was about 50-50, 
and somehow I adopted a 
fatalistic attitude. I followed 
a careful regimen and 
resolved to keep my mind 
active and to push all worry 
as far into the background as 

He follows the same rules 
now that he is retired from a 
job as a bank vice-president 
and semi-retired from an avo- 
cation as a local historian. 
"To avoid boredom," he 

says, he fully indulgences 
passions for reading, base- 
ball, and walking. "I don't use 
a cane, and I don't feel old." 

Most of the changes in his 
lifestyle he cheerfully 
accepts. But the move to his 
single room in Frederick, 
Md. , was trying even for one 
with a long education in 

"For 10 years following 
my wife's death I had contin- 
ued to live in a spacious 
apartment surrounded by 

lawns and trees. In the retire- 
ment center I knew that I 
would live in a very small 
room overlooking rooftops. 
That knowledge alone gener- 
ated a reluctance to move, 
and combined with the 
knowledge that I should be 
forever separated from most 
of my possessions, the deci- 
sion became traumatic. 

"The separation leaves a 
sense of loss almost impos- 
sible to express. I have been 
asked how to adjust." 


On approaching 
death and dying 

"One advantage of old age is the clarity 
of vision. Not everyone has it, and it 
would be wrong to romanticize old age. 
But those who do have a much sounder 
sense of values, which comes of looking 
death in the eye." 

The thoughts are those of John 
Caputo, professor of philosophy at Vil- 
lanova University. He likes the word 
mortal. "It's a good word; it describes 
our condition as humans. We are the 
only beings who die— other beings per- 
ish. We're the only ones who experience 
mortality, because we are projected 
ahead of ourselves. We have what 
Heidegger called 'being toward death.' 
We tend to say death is something off in 
the future that's not going to happen, not 
to me, not yet. So we turn ourselves over 
to present distractions." He adds that 
ours is "a culture of youth, a culture of 
erasing the time process. People in their 
60s want to look like people in their 

Through his interest in existentialism, 
he thinks of time in two guises, human 
temporality and objective time. The time 
of objects, he explains, "is homogene- 
ous. What you have is only units of the 
present. The future is what didn't happen 
yet, the past is what is over." 

But in human temporality, "the focus 
on the now is diminished. You're ori- 
ented toward the future. You're always 
moving ahead of yourself. You also have 
your past in the back of your head. The 
movement of the present seems to van- 
ish. You become literally ecstatic, 
extended out of yourself." 

Often, the young are the ones most 
entranced by "now" time, by immediate 
gratification, into idling the present 
away. What's it like to talk with a class 
of freshmen about death? Says Caputo, 
46, "It's practically impossible. 'Death' 
tends to just bounce off an 18 year old. 
They are so vitally throbbing. But as you 
get older, you hear it." 

What we hear is that death is coming, 
sooner or later. But, says Caputo, "the 
projection upon death is salutary, a con- 
structive thing. If confronted squarely, 
it's not a morbidity or moroseness, but 
it's seeing yourself in a cold, white light. 
And that's liberating." 

—Donna Shoemaker 


the controversy on fatness and longevity. 
"In my talks and writings, I have com- 
pared obesity to a Jekyll and Hyde sort of 
variable. We need quite a bit of body fat, 
but what's it there for? We certainly 
don't need it to survive an overnight fast. 
And we certainly don't need it to survive 
weeks of fasting — at least not anymore. 
Any advantage that the plump cave man 
had certainly should not apply to modern 

Part of the paradox of extra pounds— 
that they are associated with disease but 
may aid longevity— may be explained by 
the fact that there are different kinds of 
fat. In terms of the chronic diseases of 
aging, it's better to be shaped like a 
pear— known as female-pattern obesity — 
than like a pot— known as male-pattern 
obesity. The pot-bellied are worse off 
because "adipose tissue inside the abdo- 
men drains directly into the liver," says 
Andres, "so the blood leaving that tissue 
is heavily laden with harmful fat. 
Whereas the fat around the hips and 
thighs doesn't go to the liver, it goes gen- 
erally everywhere." 

Diet and a long life 

Although the medical profession may not 
agree on what ideal body weight is, it is 
reaching some common ground on what 
kind of diet helps people live longer. 

New evidence that diet can help to 
reverse artherosclerosis comes from a 
study of men aged 40 to 59, conducted 
by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood 
Institute. A stringent low-fat diet, cou- 
pled with a cholesterol-lowering drug 
and niacin, actually helped to widen por- 
tions of narrowed blood vessels in men 
who had previously had coronary bypass 
surgery. Of those following the test regi- 
men, 16 percent showed actual arterial 
widening, compared with only 2.4 per- 
cent in the control group on a more nor- 
mal diet. 

The American Heart Association's 
low-fat, low-cholesterol diet recom- 
mended to prevent heart disease and the 
National Cancer Institute's diet to pre- 
vent cancer are almost the same. Both 
say to avoid foods high in saturated fat 
(such as marbled steak and butter), cho- 
lesterol (such as organ meats), and sugar 
and salt. Not surprisingly, they recom- 
mend eating more fresh fruits, vegeta- 
bles, and whole-grain cereal and breads. 

Recently the heart association revised 
its dietary guidelines to focus more on 
the link between calorie intake and cho- 
lesterol. "Calories do make a dif- 

ference—that's one of the major mes- 
sages," says W. Virgil Brown, professor 
of medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medi- 
cine in New York. 

Along with its recommendation that 
fat should make up less than 30 percent 
of what we eat, the heart association now 
advises that cholesterol should be no 
more than 100 mg per 1,000 calories 
consumed, not to exceed 300 mg a day. 
Sample menus show how substitution 
can reduce calories and thus cholesterol, 
for example, munching an apple instead 
of six chocolate sandwich cookies or 
substituting an eight-ounce glass of skim 
milk for a deviled egg and cheese sauce. 

Skim milk also rates high with doctors 
treating older women because it's low in 
fat but high in calcium (an eight-ounce 
glass contains about 300 mg). While cal- 
cium can't compensate for the drop in 
estrogen accompanying menopause, the 
often-prescribed daily dose of estrogen 
could be reduced if women would take in 
1,500 mg of calcium every day, con- 
cluded panelists at a recent NIH work- 
shop on osteoporosis. 

The attitude factor 

Research into the intricate connections 
between the brain, the central nervous 
system, and the immune system — a field 
called psychoneuroimmunology — is con- 
firming that how we think may affect our 
susceptibility to disease. 

In the absence of illness, personality 
remains fairly constant over a lifetime, 
the BLSA reveals. Thus the stereotype of 
an older person becoming cranky and 
difficult is false. It's unlikely, unless he 
or she was cranky in youth and middle 

In studies of how older people per- 
ceive their health and well-being, those 
who say they feel pretty good are, in 
fact, relatively healthy. Do they feel 
good simply because they think they do, 
perhaps ignoring aches and pains that 
may be present? That's hard to sort out, 
but it is clear that attitude exerts a strong 
influence on healthful aging. 

While aging is inevitable and the cellu- 
lar clock continues to tick even as you 
read this, practicing a healthy lifestyle 
throughout your life does give you an 
edge on old age. No one can change 
inherited genes, but changing habits is 
within anyone's grasp. 

Peggy Eastman is a free-lance writer 
specializing in gerontology and living in 
Chevy Chase, Md. 


With pageantry 

and grace, 

3reat Britain welcomed 

12 undergraduates 

whose seven weeks 

of hard work christened 

WPI's new London 

Project Center. 

By Kenneth McDonnell 


... , 




It's over now. The reports have 
been written and polished. The 
final presentations have been given 
and good-byes exchanged, along 
with mementos of thanks and new- 
found friendships. 
The student teams have disbanded and 
gone their separate ways— most of their 
members off to the playground that is 
Europe in the summer, others back to the 
States for summer jobs. They will 
regroup in September, no doubt, for 
debriefing and reminiscing, and then on 
to their junior or senior years— one more 
episode in their education. 

In completing their Interactive Quali- 
fying Projects (IQPs), these 12 under- 
graduates, the first to represent the col- 
lege at its new London Project Center 
(LPC), have established WPI as a signif- 
icant presence in Great Britain— a pres- 
ence that is certain to increase in the 
years ahead. 

"Frankly, I was surprised by how 
happy each of the four agencies was with 
what our students achieved," says 
humanities Professor John Zeugner, co- 
advisor at the LPC this year. "The kids 
had their hands full— seven weeks is lit- 
tle time to deal with a new culture and 
professional-level expectations— and I 
pushed them pretty hard throughout the 

"Still, the amount of time the agency 
liaisons spent with each group and the 
close relevance of each project to the 
mission of the sponsoring group are mar- 
velous indications that all the hard work 
will find receptive ears in this year's 
sponsor organizations— and has already 
opened more doors in Britain." 

ton, D.C., Project Center, established in 
1974, the LPC is largely the culmination 
of the 14-year student exchange program 

Kenneth McDonnell (all) 



London bridge today. The 
original was purchased by a 
Aveatthy American and 
moved to the U.S. ; . ;. .. : 

"The kids had their hands full. 
Seven weeks is little time to deal with a new culture and 
professional-level expectations." 

between WPI and The City University of 
London. In Washington alone, some 500 
students and 40 faculty members have 
completed more than 200 IQPs with 50 
government agencies and private organi- 

Now, the LPC adds a cross-cultural 
element to WPI's residential projects 
program. And it is the cultural 
exchange— even in a nation as socially 
similar to the U.S. as Britain— that is one 
of the major benefits and challenges of 
participation in the LPC. 

"I think our students were surprised by 
just how different things are in the 
U.K.," says Zeugner, whose desire to 
serve in London derives from his interest 
in both teaching through projects and 
investigating how other cultures handle 
higher education. 

It's the little things that matter, he 
says, such as dealing with differences in 
technical terminology and regular work- 
ing hours, together with new social 
norms— proper silence on the Under- 
ground, London's exceptional subway 
network, and etiquette in England's 
fabled pubs. All told, it creates not only 
a challenging working environment for 
students but also the need to demon- 
strate, often for the first time, a sense of 
collegiate and even national ambassador- 

And in every project, the proposals so 
meticulously conceived and presented 
prior to the students' departure in March 
needed altering once they got to London, 
due to normal progress achieved by the 
agencies themselves and changing condi- 
tions of the problems being addressed. 

"It's all very exciting," Zeugner says, 
"but being in a place where you abso- 
lutely must carry a 300-page book of 
maps to get anywhere — well, you have to 
budget a little extra time for these 

In London, there are, for example, 65 
streets whose names contain the word 
queen. And it's said that to win an opera- 
tor's licence, London's cabbies must pass 
an exhaustive, three-day examination 

During a review session with 

advisor John F. Zeugner, 

professor of history at WPI, 

U.K. Patent Office project 

members pose for a photograph. 

Left to right: Robert A. Petrin 

'88, Andrew J. Scholand '89, 

and Sergio E. Levi '88. 

testing their ability to get you to any- 
where in London via the fastest, most 
economical route — and always in a 
clean, comfortable fashion with a courte- 
ous "Thanks, mate" at your destination. 

"Very civilized," Zeugner says. 

Junior Paul R. Mancini, an LPC stu- 
dent, adds, "It's so different here. At 
home, we go to class, crank out home- 
work, go to project meetings, take 
exams, start again. Here, we have a 
problem to solve in a limited time within 
set parameters. We've got to develop 
resource networks quickly, building 
something from nothing in a strange 

Considering the demands on their 
time, is there much left over for explor- 
ing this enchanting, non-stop city? 
"Weekends," says the mechanical engi- 
neering major. 

In London, Mancini and teammates 
Jodi-Ann Medeiros and William F. Noel, 
juniors as well, worked on a project for 
the Worshipful Company of Scientific 
Instrument Makers. The Company, Noel 
explains, is one of England's many 
modern-day guilds, or liveries. These 
organizations were established in the 
Middle Ages by craftspeople in particu- 
lar trades to regulate the activities of the 


"It's all very exciting," Zeugner says, "but being in a place 
where you absolutely must carry a 300-page book of maps to get anywhere- 
well, you have to budget a little extra time for these things." 

industry — by governing apprenticeships, 
setting prices, and playing a vital role in 
the lives of their members. Today, these 
fraternal groups continue to promote the 
welfare of their industries, but normally 
through channels similar to those of 
manufacturing associations. 

Each year, for example, the Company 
gives an achievement award for the best 
commercially innovative technological 
instrument. The award, Medeiros notes, 
has always been well received, but until 
now the Company lacked a formal struc- 
ture for selecting award nominees and 
winners. Past winners have included the 
scanning electron microscope and the 
EMI whole body scanner. 

By studying the selection systems of 
similar awards and sources of new prod- 
uct information, such as trade publica- 
tions, university research, patent office 

Juniors Henry J. Clark III, 
Michelle A. Pence, and David 

A. Burrage catalogued the 

papers and wrote a biographical 

sketch of the British inventor 

Albert H. Midgley for the 

Institution of Electrical 


documents, and word-of-mouth re- 
sources, the team was able to recom- 
mend not only a more formal award for- 
mat, but also a leading nominee for the 
1987 award. 

In addition, the team's final recom- 
mendations included showcasing the cur- 
rent year's winner at the guildhall and at 
British libraries and museums, providing 
the winning organization with an award 
crest for display, and perhaps changing 
the name of the prize as well. Their 
efforts should go far in promoting the 
prestige of the award. 

The building in which the Company 
resides houses several other liveries like 
the launderers' and the glaziers' guilds. 
Located on the river Thames and abut- 
ting London Bridge— making the hall 
itself part of the historic City of 
London — Glaziers Hall was the site of 
the LPC inaugural banquet on April 13. 

For the 80 guests assembled, it was an 
evening to exchange best wishes for the 
work ahead, to express appreciation for 
the close relationships that had already 
sprung up between WPI and British 
project sponsors, and, of course, to toast 
the queen — and the president. 

Not only were the 12 project students 
on hand for all the introductions, the 
feasting, the speechmaking, and the clas- 
sical music, but so were WPI representa- 
tives who journeyed to London for the 
inaugural event and to make plans for 
subsequent LPC projects in the spring of 
1988. Those in attendance included 
Dean William R. Grogan '46; Dean John 
P. van Alstyne; Dean Frank Lutz and his 
wife, Evelyn; Professor Lance Schach- 
terle, co-director of the LPC and director 
of the Division of Interdisciplinary 
Affairs (DIA), which oversees all IQPs; 
and freshmen Nancy A. McLaughlin and 
Jeffrey A. Yoder, who delivered greet- 
ings from the Class of 1990. 

Also in attendance were alumni 
George H. Long '57 and his wife, Linda; 
Henry M. Strage '54; and Robert Wolff 
'51 and his wife, Millicent. 

The LPC had been in the planning 

SUMMER 1987 33 

In completing their IQPs, these 12 undergraduates have 

established WPI as a significant presence in Great Britain — 

a presence that is certain to increase in the years ahead. 


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R »m ■ **tI V F -^ 

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stages for several years, thanks in part to 
the untiring efforts of Maria L. Watkins, 
co-director of the Center, co-advisor with 
Zeugner, and an adjunct associate pro- 
fessor in the DIA. A retired professor of 
electrical engineering at The City Uni- 
versity and the first woman in England to 
teach EE, she has also established and 
managed nearly a dozen university 
exchange programs, including those of 
Clarkson and Syracuse universities. 

She is also an active committee mem- 
ber of the Institution of Electrical Engi- 
neers, a member of the Worshipful Com- 
pany of Scientific Instrument Makers, 
and one of just 50 female freemen, out of 
more than 1 ,000, of the City of London, 
which entitles her to vote for — or even 
become— the Lord Mayor of London. 

And for WPI, she is a vital asset to the 
LPC, opening doors at high levels. 

THE BANQUET seemed to lend a sense 
of British grace and style to the entire 
LPC venture with guildmasters in full 
regalia, the keynote address by Baroness 
Piatt of Writtle, chairperson of the U.K. 
Equal Opportunities Commission, enti- 
tled "A Woman's Place Is in Industry," 
and the Thames just outside the window. 
For the project students, the banquet 

At the conclusion of the 

inaugural banquet of the 

London Project Center, 10 of 

the dozen WPI students, 

together with the British advisor 

to one project, Peter M. Back, 

second from left, offer a most 

American rendition of the song 

whose chorus begins, "Do wah 

ditty ditty . . ." 

was one of several testaments they would 
experience to the value of their work to 
their sponsor agencies. It was also, 
though, but an evening's respite from a 
commitment that demanded sometimes 
60-70 hours of toil each week. 

At the U.K. Patent Office (UKPO), 
for example, a typical week might find 
Sergio E. Levy '88, Robert A. Petrin 
'88, or Andrew J. Scholand '89 jetting 
off to The Hague to discuss elements of 
their project with representatives of the 
European Patent Office (EPO). 

The project centered on the UKPO's 
concern over criticism of its patent 
searches uncovered in a survey con- 
ducted by an independent research 
group. The outside study examined the 
perceived satisfaction of the agency's 
users— patent agents, similar to U.S. pat- 
ent attorneys— with UKPO searchers 
compared with those of the EPO. 

Created in 1978 because of the desire 
of European national patent offices to 
ease the procedure for multinational pat- 
ent protection, the EPO is today most 
attractive to that sector of industry inter- 
ested in marketing its products through- 
out Europe. The UKPO, on the other 
hand, is used mainly by inventors whose 
chief concern is the British market. 

In addition, the cost of an EPO search 
is often prohibitively high for single- 
market-oriented producers. But accord- 
ing to UKPO project liaison Peter M. 
Back, his agency and the EPO are not in 
direct competition, since they serve the 
needs of two different sectors of the 

"Patents are a tremendous source of 
technical information," says Scholand. 
"But patents have a tradeoff: The gov- 
ernment gives you a limited monopoly 
on your invention in return for your 
revealing the smallest details of your 
innovation and thus allowing other peo- 
ple access to your ideas." And since 
patents— published documents— are 
often released long before an idea 
reaches the pages of technical journals, 
patents usually serve to publicize the lat- 


est developments in any field. 

Adds Petrin, "Patent offices actually 
have a vital societal responsibility to spur 
technology, since industry needs the stra- 
tegic tools which new ideas provide." 

As result of their work, the team found 
that in the previous independent study of 
UKPO and EPO searchers, the patent 
agents interviewed either misunderstood 
the differences between the two agen- 
cies, or were subject to a poorly con- 
structed and analyzed questionnaire. 
Further, the students found that the price- 
quality balance of UKPO searches is rea- 
sonable, but that certain parts of the 
search report could stand to be 

According to Levy, all engineers and 
scientists should be interested in the 
arcane world of patents: "Just as tech- 
nologists should be interested in improv- 
ing society, they should also be aware of 
the fact that intellectual property can be 

Petrin says he hopes the results of the 
team's work will enable the UKPO to 
better market itself, an especially impor- 
tant task now that the number of patent 
applications is falling in the U.K. from 
as many as 20,000 per year. 

his share of patents was Albert H. 
Midgley (1881-1961). The son of an 
engineer, Midgley grew up at the time 
when electricity was gaining broad 
acceptance but was still in need of tech- 
nological and safety developments. 

It was the Victorian Age. England was 
well into the Industrial Revolution. Soci- 
ety demanded attention to high personal 
and professional standards, yet was 
reluctant to adopt new ideas and prod- 
ucts. It was also a period of dramatic 
growth in the commercial and cultural 
development of London. Young, ener- 
getic technologists were flocking to the 
city to make their entrepreneurial marks. 
Albert Midgley was among them, com- 
ing south from his native Yorkshire to 
play his hand in the development of such 

Among the distinguished guests 

at the banquet were (left to 

right) Dr. Elizabeth Laverick of 

the Institution of Electrical 

Engineers; R.J.F. Howard, 

master, Worshipful Company of 

Scientific Instrument Makers 

(WCSIM); Baroness Piatt of 

Writtle, chairperson of the U.K. 

Equal Opportunities 

Commission; Professor Maria 

Watkins, co-director of the LPC; 

and G.G. Zahler, deputy master, 


innovations as electric streetcars, motor 
cars, lighting, radio, and cinema. 

He did leave his mark, not only as an 
inventor, but also as an entrepreneur and 
businessman who improved on the ideas 
of others. Dynamos, electronic organs, 
radios, bomb fuses, and automatic timers 
and switches would bear his trademark 
throughout the first third of this century. 

Midgley's papers, artifacts, drawings, 
journals, invoices, and patent specifica- 
tions chronicle the remarkable changes 
in British technology during his life. But 
until three WPI students arrived in Lon- 
don, Midgley's things were stored, 
unsorted and uncataloged, in 81 boxes 
and tea chests at the British Institution of 
Electrical Engineers (IEE). 

The tasks before juniors David A. Bur- 
rage, Henry J. Clark III, and Michelle 
Pence were to catalog the contents of the 
Midgley collection, at the same time 
suggesting which things might reason- 
ably be discarded. In so doing, the team 
developed a computer program for fast, 
reliable indexing of the collection. 
Finally, the three wrote a biographical 
sketch of the inventor, based on sources 
in the collection, interviews with 
Midgley family members, and other 

SUMMER 1987 35 

The banquet seemed to lend a sense of British grace and style 
to the entire LPC venture. 

research, which placed him in the con- 
text of his time. 

"We've tried to give researchers, his- 
torians, and inventors a resource to help 
them access information on one of Brit- 
ain's most prodigious inventors," says 
Pence, "and at the same time create a 
cataloging system that can be useful for 
similar IEE archival collections." 

In the process, adds Clark, "we've 
come to understand a lot more about 
British culture in Midgley's time and the 
dynamics of how new technologies are 
both developed and put on the market." 

"IT'S OUR SECOND DAY in London. 
We walk into an IEE conference room 
for our first project meeting with our 
project advisors, expecting a 'Hi, how 
was your flight? How are you finding 
London?' But instead, we find ourselves 
face to face with a committee of eight 
serious people, obviously awaiting our 
arrival with high expectations of our 
future performance." 

This, says John T. Powers '88, set the 
stage for what would become seven 
weeks of intensive efforts to both address 
the complex issue of his team's project 
and fulfill the expectations of IEE. 

The students' mission, to project the 
manpower needs of electrical engineers 
in the U.K. to the year 2000, was based 
on fears that, by the turn of the century, 
the U.K. will be experiencing serious 
shortages in many engineering disci- 
plines. To avoid this situation, says team 
member Karen A. Desrosiers '88, it is 
imperative that both British industry and 
education— from secondary schools 
through universities— take remedial steps 
now. "But considering economic supply 
and demand projections, the government 
may well need to do more to encourage 
careers in science and technology." 

One way to do this, the team recom- 
mended, is to provide British students 
with more information on the bright 
future and excellent job opportunities in 
electrical engineering. Another is to 
increase the number of college courses 

The inaugural banquet, held in 
Glaziers Hall , featured a keynote 

address by Baroness Piatt of 

Writtle, chairperson of the U.K. 

Equal Opportunities 


offered at night, which would enable 
practicing engineers to gain further edu- 
cation and credentials in their chosen 

"The nation will clearly need more 
engineers in the decades ahead," says 
Mark Wartski '88, "but this means 
greater resources and publicity from 
grammar school on up. Without this kind 
of collaborative commitment by industry 
and government, and with the number of 
18- and 19-year-olds still declining in the 
U.K., as in the U.S., the imbalance 
could worsen considerably." 

To complete their project, the team 
relied on the data contained in IEE salary 
surveys of practicing engineers, together 
with extensive research of British indus- 
trial and educational programs. Salary 
surveys, says Wartski, yield significant 
indications of where the best opportuni- 
ties lie in competing fields. 

"To stimulate a nation's economy," he 
says, "there need to be adequate supplies 
of professionals in the appropriate fields. 
And in an increasingly technological — 
and competitive — world economy, in 
engineers and scientists lies much of the 
hope of a nation." 

Already, five IQPs are planned with 15 
students in London in the spring of 1988. 
According to Lance Schachterle, the Pat- 
ent Office and the IEE have both indi- 
cated strong interest in continuing to 


"We've got to develop resource networks quickly," says Junior Paul R. Mancini, 
"building something from nothing in a strange place." 

offer project topics regularly, and plans 
are well along for a series of projects at 
the IEE on British women engineers. 

New project contacts are being devel- 
oped with the London office of Digital 
Equipment Corporation, with the British 
electronics firm Ferranti, and with the 
London Dry Docks Corporation, which 
oversees the major urban redevelopment 
project for the growth of London's finan- 
cial district. 

Schachterle and co-director Maria 
Watkins are also discussing a project on 
the patent activity of Dennis Gabor, per- 
haps best known for his fundamental 
work in holography. The Gabor project 
will be especially interesting in that the 
London liaison will be Prof. T. E. Alli- 
bone, a colleague of Gabor's and a mem- 
ber of the prestigious Royal Society, 
where the students will be doing much of 
their work. 

"The success of the 1987 projects was 
crucial to getting such good contacts for 
1988," says Schachterle. "Professor 
Zeugner not only worked the students 
hard, but also pushed himself to the limit 
to assist them." Working under the con- 
straints of a new and unfamiliar environ- 
ment, he adds, both students and faculty 
produced outstanding reports that prove 
again the basic philosophy of the WPI 
project program: If you treat students 
like young professionals and give them 
appropriate resources and responsibili- 
ties, you'll be astonished with the high 
quality of the results. 

"What we need to do now," Watkins 
adds, "is to learn from our returning stu- 
dents how to arrange the living and 
social patterns to best support their tight 
work schedule. Being scattered around 
the northern suburbs is not an optimal 
living arrangement, and we all look for- 
ward to a day when WPI can establish a 
formal residential center in London for 
students and faculty to share." 

During their visit to London in April, 
deans Lutz and Grogan also advanced 
plans for new cooperative programs with 
King's College and Imperial College, the 

William F. Noel, Jodi-Ann 

Medeiros, and Paul R. Mancini, 

all juniors, take a break from a 

busy day in their offices that 

overlook the river Thames. 

two leading engineering programs in 
London. Along with the LPC, these new 
contacts will complement programs 
already in progress at the National Insti- 
tute for Higher Education in Limerick, 
Ireland; University of Stirling, Scotland; 
and with several technological institu- 
tions in Switzerland, Sweden, and Ger- 

Plans call for Professor John van 
Alstyne to serve as co-adviser to the LPC 
in 1988. A veteran of the Washington 
Project Center, where he'll advise 
projects again this fall, of his spring '88 
plans he says, "After seeing how suc- 
cessful the LPC has been in just its first 
year, I'll have my hands full just keeping 
up with what our sponsoring agencies are 
coming to expect from WPI. But consid- 
ering the caliber of students selected to 
represent the college, I guess I shouldn't 
be all that worried." 

"Besides," he adds, "I can't wait to 
get back to London." 

SUMMER 1987 37 

Better Access to Expanding Knowledge 


One thing is certain 
about working in Gor- 
don Library — you 
never know what peo- 
ple are going to ask 
next. And if you think 
the hardest research 
questions involve 
knotty engineering problems or esoteric 
scientific concepts, guess again. 

Take, for instance, the Case of the 
Notre Dame Fight Song. "One morning 
I got a call from a woman who needed to 
find the words to the Notre Dame fight 
song, which she was supposed to sing for 
a gathering that night," recalls Carmen 

Brown, Gordon Library's head of public 

A search through the Library's hold- 
ings and a call to a friend in WPI's finan- 
cial aid office who had Notre Dame con- 
nections proved fruitless. But on her way 
to lunch that afternoon, Brown bumped 
into a faculty friend who was a Notre 
Dame alumnus. "I said, 'Quick, what 
are the words to the Notre Dame fight 
song?' The only way he could remember 
was to sing it, so we stood there on the 
quadrangle, singing at the top of our 
lungs, while I scribbled the words down 
on a copy of the Boston Globe. " 

Later that day, when she reached the 

inquiring party. Brown once again sang a 
rousing rendition of the fight song as she 
dictated the words over the phone. "It 
turned out that the caller wasn't too sure 
of the tune, either," she laughs. 

Certainly, it was not your run-of-the- 
mill research request. But Brown i 
recounts the story as a good illustration 
of the way she and the other librarians 
are able to draw on all the resources WPI 
has to offer in order to find information. 
"The faculty and staff are really happy to 
help us," she says. 

That story also tells a lot about the : 
nature of library work. "The best thing 
about my job is the element of surprise," ' 

As computers help define the future of 
20-year-old Gordon Library, Al Anderson 
and his staff rise to the challenge of satisfying 
more and more patrons hungry for knowledge. 

By Evelyn Herwitz 

says Special Collections Librarian Lora 
Brueck. As keeper of WPI's archives, 
Brueck likens her tasks to being on a 
treasure hunt: "You never know what's 
going to come in, or what's in a collec- 
tion that hasn't been looked at for years. 
Sometimes you can uncover something 
quite valuable or original." 

Responding to any and all information 
requests and sharing research discoveries 
with the WPI community are two of the 
George C. Gordon Library's most impor- 
tant tasks. Doing so in a way that makes 
the best use of available information 
technologies within an aesthetically 
pleasing and convenient setting has been 

the Library's goal since its creation 20 
years ago. 

While that mission has been largely 
realized, as it enters its third decade, 
Gordon Library is facing new chal- 
lenges. Both the Library's holdings and 
WPI's student body have outgrown the 
Library's physical plant. As plans are 
made to accommodate that expansion, 
Library staff members are also wrestling 
with a broader issue: how to remain 
an adaptable, high-quality academic 
resource in an era when computer data 
bases are radically changing the way 
information is researched and stored. 

Those concerns, if not anticipated, 
certainly were not a major worry when 
the Library was conceived in the mid- 

Gordon Library, now 20 years old, remains 
unchanged outside, but much is new 
within. Below: Head Librarian Albert G. 
Anderson, Jr., strives to answer the need 
of a growing academic community for 
more and more technical services. 

1960s. At the time, the main issues were 
much more basic: how to centralize the 
various departmental libraries around 
campus, to make books and other 
resources readily available across disci- 

Planners were also thinking about 
some subtler, but equally significant, 
questions— questions about aesthetic 
design, adaptable space, and ways to 
unify the campus with a special building 
that all would enjoy using. 

The impetus for the new library came 
from an accreditation review that criti- 
cized WPI's then-disparate department 
collections as insufficient for academic 
purposes. At the time, humanities and 
social science titles were located in the 
Library's precursor in Alden Hall, while 
the Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, and 
Physics departments all maintained their 
own collections, and the Chemistry and 
Chemical Engineering departments 
shared resources. 

According to Albert G. Anderson, Jr., 
who joined WPI in 1963 to help plan the 
library of which he is now head librarian, 
the idea of a centralized facility did not 
go over big with some members of the 
faculty. "Many of them wanted to main- 
tain their own collections," he says. "But 
President [Harry P.] Storke insisted." 

Championed by Storke, the project 
took shape. The final plans called for a 
65,000-square-foot, four-story building 
that could hold 200,000 books and seat 
450 patrons, plus another 150 people in a 
special seminar room. 

But it was also designed to be "more 
than just a typical library of the late 
'60s," says Anderson. "The architect 
wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing, a 
campus showcase. He wanted it to be 
what a building in WPI's future would 
look like, while staying within a reason- 
able budget." 

Among the Library's foresightful inno- 
vations were wall-to-wall carpeting and 
the campus' first central air-conditioning 
system. Other features included a music 
room for listening to records and tapes, 

SUMMER 1987 39 

Below: Special Collections Librarian Lora 
T. Brueck with some of the treasures of 
the Gordon Archives, including (far left) a 
bronze head of the WPI mascot. 

space on the top floor for art displays, 
meeting and seminar rooms, and storage 
for the Institute's archives. 

The building's $2.5-million price tag 
was met in large part by a $5-million 
bequest from Cleveland industrialist 
George C. Gordon, of the Class of 1895, 
whose name is chiseled over the 
Library's entrance. Federal aid totaling 
$750,000 also paid for construction 

Much has changed 
since Gordon 

Library opened its 
doors in 1967. To 
begin with, WPI's 
very makeup has 
radically altered, 
both in size and 
composition. In the past 20 years, enroll- 
ment has more than doubled, from 1,700 
to 3,800. 

How those students are learning has 
changed as well. Though classroom and 
individual study are still essential to the 

curriculum, with the introduction of the 
WPI Plan in the early 1970s undergradu- 
ates began spending much of their time 
working in groups for project courses. 

For the Library, that growth of and 
shift to group study have put a premium 
on space. Particularly for project course- 
work, notes Carmen Brown, the few 
available study rooms are staked out 
early in the day, marked with "in use" 
signs to define turf, and not vacated until 
late at night. Those who can't find a 
room of their own often meet in the 
Music Room, which has evolved into an 
ad hoc project meeting place because it is 
also an enclosed, more private space. 

To meet the growing demand for infor- 
mation, the Library has increased its 
book collection over fivefold, from 
40,000 volumes when it opened to 
200,500 today. But all those books, as 
well as 750,000 pieces of microform 
(microfilm and microfiche), 1 ,350 maga- 
zine titles, and 1,650 videotapes of vari- 
ous course lectures, take up a lot of 

Buried Treasure 

Theo Brown's 
extraordinary diaries 
have a special place 
in the WPI archives 

ITEMS have found their way into 
WPI's archives. There's the collection 
of tinware that WPI founder John 
Boynton made in his tin shop, a few of 
rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard's 
('08) lab notebooks, and the bronze 
goat's head that replaced the stuffed 
remains of the Class of 1893's unfortu- 
nate mascot. (Legend has it that the 
Class of '93 couldn't decide what to do 
with their favorite goat over the sum- 
mer, so they decided to do away with it 
but preserve its head. The stuffed 
goat — which inspired the naming of the 
former Goat's Head Pub, now Gom- 
pei's Place— lasted until the 1920s, 
when the Tech men decided a bronze 
version would be a more fitting mascot 
than the venerable but, by that time, 
tattered original.) 

Then there are the diaries of 
Theophilus Brown. A member of the 
Class of 1901, Brown was a mechani- 
cal engineer and inventor of agricul- 
tural equipment who religiously 
recorded the details of his life in daily 
journal entries. Beginning with a brief 
entry in an 1893 pocket diary about 
electric cars running again on sched- 
ule, and ending with a poem on aging 
in the back of a novel-size 1970 blank 
book, the leather-bound journals fill a 
narrow bookcase in Gordon Library's 

What makes the diaries so fascinat- 
ing is not only Brown's description of 
his life and ideas— many of which 
became patented inventions incorpo- 


rated into tractor designs by John 
Deere Co.— but his illustrations as 
well. A talented artist with an eye for 
detail, Brown first drew many of his 
ideas in his journals, carefully illustrat- 
ing each thought with pen and colored 

During his 92 years (1879-1971), 
Brown came up with 158 patented 
inventions, most while working for 
Deere from 1911 until 1952. From 
time to time he enumerated those pat- 
ents in his diaries; in one 1942 entry, 
he listed 24, including a mechanical 
power lift, a double power lift, and a 
self-contained power lift. Elsewhere 
that year he also mentioned patent 
applications for a plow that would 
maintain "constant depth of operation" 
and a mechanized manure spreader. 

But such entries make up only a part 
of Brown's diaries. A family man, he 
included snapshots of his wife, chil- 
dren, and grandchildren, as well as 
sketches of his granddaughter, "Pooh," 
and Christmas cards he designed. And 
with as much care as he detailed his 
inventions, Brown also copied into his 
diaries letters from his son, Bill, and 
other family members. 

Those letters provide the meat 
between often brief accounts of daily 
activities. And during World War II, 
they provide a window on daily life 
during a period of national crisis. "We 
are all projecting ourselves into the 
future these days, for in the next week 
or two our immediate fates will be 
fixed," wrote son Bill in November of 
1942 from Officer Candidate School. 
"White slips of paper will soon be 
given to us to report to day or night 
'boards'— night boards being fatal 99% 
of the time." 

Underscoring the tension of the 
times, Brown illustrated the pages of 
his wartime diaries with carefully repli- 
cated newspaper headlines and hand- 
colored maps showing progress on the 

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various battle fronts. On October 27, 
1942, beneath a headline copied from 
the Chicago Tribune, "BIG JAP 
Naval Losses: Sinking of Carrier Wasp 
Bared," Brown wrote: 

"Quarterly Directors' [of Deere Co.] 
Meeting today. Implements are 
rationed and sales have taken a nose 
dive. Our volume for the year will be 
close to 95 million however. We have 
60 millions in cash. The allotment for 
next year has just come out and will be 
for the Industry about 20% of 1941 
production, but since manufacturers 
are graded into A, B & C classes, and 
the A class (which does more than 10 
millions a year) is curtailed much 
more, it looks as tho' 10% of 1940 
would be as much as we can expect to 
do. We are getting into war work in a 

big way so most of our employees will 
be busy." 

And so was Brown. Despite the war, 
he kept on inventing. By the end of his 
life, Brown had received numerous 
awards for his work, including the first 
Cyrus H. McCormick Medal for out- 
standing service in agricultural engi- 
neering, WPI's Robert H. Goddard 
Award for Outstanding Professional 
Achievement, and the Distinguished 
Service Award from the National 
Safety Council for his work in farm 

That list could just as easily have 
included recognition of Brown as an 
historian and an artist. But such discov- 
eries are perhaps best left to the curious 
reader who visits the Gordon Library's 
archives and learns firsthand from 
Theo Brown. 

SUMMER 1987 41 

Below: Gordon's carrels are largely vacant 
in the early summer, but the library staff 
stays busy: (left to right) Helen M. Sinis- 
ter, head of technical services; Cornelia B. 
Pomeroy, circulation librarian; Diana J. 
Johnson, reference/interlibrary loan 
librarian; and Carmen M. Brown, associ- 
ate librarian and head of public services. 

The storage problem was eased some- 
what two years ago when space in 
Founders Hall was set aside to handle 
some of the Library's overflow. But con- 
straints on storage and study space have 
prompted the Library staff and WPI 
administration to begin planning for 
some form of expansion in the near 
future. As part of that process, last Feb- 
ruary the Library surveyed students' 
opinions of its space and services; not 
surprisingly, the need for more group 
study rooms topped the list of findings. 

This fall, a survey of faculty priorities 
for the Library is planned. 

One plan on the not-too-distant hori- 
zon calls for the College Computer Cen- 
ter, which houses academic and adminis- 
trative computing resources, to be 
moved to Fuller Laboratories, WPI's 
planned information sciences building. 
Construction of Fuller will begin soon on 
land adjacent to the Library, Atwater 
Kent and Kaven Hall. This change will 
free some 9,000 square feet for Library 

"We've got two to three years before 
we get into serious problems," Al Ander- 
son says. "I hope that by 1990 we'll 
have more space, including additional 
seating, stacks, and materials storage." 

Despite those spatial limitations, Gor- 
don Library has been able to expand its 
resources in other ways. Located in a 
city with a vast array of college and uni- 
versity libraries, as well as specialty 
libraries at cultural institutions such as 
the Worcester Art Museum and Ameri- 
can Antiquarian Society, Gordon Library 
is part of a cooperative which enables 
students to access 2,000,000 books 
within Worcester alone. 

Formed at WPI in 1967 under the 
aegis of the Worcester Consortium for 
Higher Education, the Worcester Area 
Cooperating Libraries (WACL) com- 
prises 14 local academic, public and spe- 
cialty libraries. Through the Inter 
Library Loan program, students can bor- 
row books from diverse resources; a 
daily shuttle service among WACL 
members makes most books available 
within 36 hours. 

Anderson says Gordon Library lends 
about as many books as it borrows from 
other area institutions. "No library can 
be self-sufficient any more," he says. 
"We all need to cooperate." 

In large part, the need to share materi- 
als has been brought about by the rising 
cost of books and the need for libraries to 
specialize in order to best utilize limited 
resources. Gordon Library's strengths, 
says Anderson, are in engineering and 
technology, as well as the basic sciences. 

In turn, he says Clark University is a 
major resource for social science refer- 
ences, Holy Cross College for the 
humanities, and the University of Massa- 
chusetts Medical School for biomedicine 
and biotechnology. 

Those three institutions do the most 
trading with WPI, though Anderson adds 
that Worcester State College's library is 
known for its education holdings, and 
Assumption College is the place to turn 
for books on languages and philosophy. 


A quiet place to study is just the begin- 
ning of the comprehensive services Gor- 
don Library provides; it now offers more 
than 1,300 magazines and journals. 

But the universe of lending 
institutions accessible to 
WPI students and faculty 
is not limited to the Wor- 
cester area. Two com- 
puter networks, one in 
operation and one still 
being developed, enable 
Gordon Library patrons to borrow books 
from thousands of libraries across the 

Via the On-Line Computer Library 
Center (OCLC), users can search for ref- 
erence material in more than 4,500 
libraries by typing information about an 
author or title into a computer terminal. 
The system will locate the source; 
through Inter Library Loan, the user can 
place an order. Assuming the material in 
question circulates and is available, 
Anderson says it will arrive an average 
of seven to 10 days later. 

The system's major shortcoming, 
however, is that it can only be used for 
title or author searches; information is 
not stored by subject. In addition, the 
data base indicates only whether a 
resource is part of a library's collection— 
not whether it is actually on the shelf or 
available for borrowing. 

An alternative computerized catalog- 
ing system, which will enable the user to 
survey resources by subject, as well as 
title and author, is being developed on a 
regional basis through another library 
consortium— Central/Western Massa- 
chusetts Automated Resource Sharing 


Thirty-four academic and public 
libraries, including Gordon Library, are 
members of the system, whose computer 
facilities are housed on the grounds of 
Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass. 

Ultimately, the consortium's Public 
Access Catalogue (PAC) will replace tra- 
ditional card catalogs in member 
libraries. Rather than digging through 
drawers of index cards for appropriate 
references, users will type inquiries into 
a computer terminal, accessing titles in 
libraries throughout the C/W MARS sys- 
tem. In addition, the PAC will identify 
whether a book is already checked out, 
non-circulating, or available for borrow- 
ing. Books located at a different library 
could then be obtained through Inter 
Library Loan. 

But that powerful research network is 
at least a year from being realized, 
according to Helen Shuster, Gordon 
Library's head of technical services and 
automation. Currently, Shuster says her 
staff are still in the. process of entering all 
of the Library's holdings into the system 

An enormous clerical undertaking, 
that process was started 10 years ago, 
even before C/W MARS existed, when 
Shuster anticipated the need to begin cat- 
aloging books on computer tapes for 
some future reference system. Though 
most of the Library's resources have 
been entered into the data base, there is 
still the task of recording individual 

books in a series, such as volumes in an 

As other member libraries computerize 
their catalog information, work con- 
tinues at the regional level to link the 
data bases together. "We know the com- 
puter hardware will work, but the soft- 
ware from C/W MARS [for the PAC] is 
still being perfected," says Shuster. 
"We're still very much in the planning 
process, though I hope the system will be 
available in the next fiscal year." 

In the meantime, librarians are using 
C/W MARS for circulation control 
within Gordon Library. When students 
check out materials, that information is 
recorded within the C/W MARS data 
base. The system can also be used at 
present to search for titles within the 
Gordon Library, as well as within mem- 
ber libraries such as the University of 
Massachusetts Medical School and Clark 
University, which also have their collec- 
tions on-line. The advantage of the PAC, 
once perfected, is that it will enable more 
searches and be more "user friendly." 

Books are not the only items being cat- 
aloged on computer at the Gordon 
Library. Eighty years' worth of WPI 
undergraduate theses— part of the Insti- 
tute's archives— are also being recorded 
on a separate data base by archivist Lora 

"Up to now, the information about 
each thesis was written on a card and 
grouped by class year, in alphabetical 
order," explains Brueck. "Now, as I look 

SUMMER 1987 43 

at each thesis, I decide on the appropriate 
subject heading and enter that informa- 
tion into the computer. That way users 
will be able to do a search by subject or 

Yet another important computerized 
research tool is the Online Search Serv- 
ice. A link to over 200 data bases nation- 
wide, the system can access information 
as varied as U.S. government R&D 
reports, chemical research abstracts, or 
an index to the Harvard Business 
Review. Rates for data searches during 
business hours vary, but at night, stu- 
dents can use the End-User Search Serv- 
ice for $24 an hour. 

Computers are available to 
students for a different 
purpose elsewhere in the 
Library. In the audio/ 
visual room, VCRs and 
television sets share space 
with about a dozen AT&T 
microcomputers for stu- 
dent use. An adjoining room that has 
been set up for training WPI staff on the 
new DEC administrative computer is 
also open to students after hours. 

Other computer resources are in the 
planning stage. Among the most intrigu- 
ing developments that are changing the 
way libraries of the future will store 

The Gordon Gallery 

ARTWORKS as well as books fill the 
Gordon Library, from Laurence Sis- 
son's acrylic "Ice Elegy," in the main 
lobby, to a life-size sculpture of a 
horse's head in the Music Room, to a 
wall of art on the third floor. 

More than just decorations, the art 
collection is evidence that one of the 
Library's major goals is being fulfilled. 
Head Librarian Albert Anderson 
expressed it in a 1967 Journal article: 

"[The] Library has been designed so 
that the student may view the best in 
contemporary art, architecture, and 
photography as well as works in the 

established periods of the past." 

In addition to the Library's private 
collection, which includes many origi- 
nal prints from the Pratt Institute in 
New York and gifts from WPI alumni, 
special loaned exhibits are often on dis- 
play. Sources range from the Smithso- 
nian Institution to local and regional 
artists. To ensure good exposure, the 
works are shown along the third floor 
corridor. Comfortable benches are 
placed at intervals along the hall, pro- 
viding a restful spot for meditation or a 
simple study break. 

"Students and visitors respond very 
positively to the art and special 
exhibits," says Anderson. "This build- 
ing is not just a library. It's a show- 


information is the compact disk (CD/ 
ROM). Like the small disks that are rev- 
olutionizing the recording industry, CD/ 
ROM will eventually be used to store 
words, graphics, and even moving 

Currently, bulky resources like Books 
in Print are available on compact disk. 
Shuster says disks are also being pro- 
duced that contain not only entire ency- 
clopedias, but also subject outlines with 
references to individual sections of the 
encyclopedia, to help users write 
research papers. 

The advantages of such new technolo- 
gies are obvious for a library where stor- 
age space is at a premium. But at the 
same time, with so many new options to 
choose from, Shuster says one of the 
greatest challenges is knowing what not 
to invest in. 

"There is a danger of letting technol- 
ogy drive you in certain directions," she 
cautions. "Like going out and buying 
CD/ROM (information stored on com- 
pact disks) because it's there, without 
having any real need for the applications. 

"But we also have to be very careful 
that other people don't take our jobs 
away from us. There are a lot of com- 
mercial enterprises in the business of 
providing information. We have to keep 
up with the technology and advances in 
automation, to make sure we have the 
services people need." 

The key to making the right tradeoffs 
as Gordon Library begins its third dec- 
ade, says head librarian Anderson, is 
flexibility. And the key to that— and what 
has enabled the Library to adapt success- 
fully in the past— is the Library's staff 
and their commitment to service. "As 
change has come about, they've been 
willing to experiment and go along with 
the changes," says Anderson. "The 
Library's staff is outstanding." 

Evelyn Herwitz, a freelance writer living 
in Worcester, is a frequent contributor to 
the Journal. 


President's Message 
Continued from page 2 

last 16 years. Interestingly, the recent 
WPI goal statement, developed and 
endorsed by the WPI faculty, includes 
the above criteria, albeit from a more 
technological perspective: "To lead stu- 
dents to develop an excellent grasp of 
fundamental concepts in their principal 
areas of study, to lay a foundation for 
lifelong renewal of knowledge, to gain a 
mature understanding of themselves, 
and, most importantly, to form a deep 
appreciation of the interrelationships 
among basic knowledge, technological 
advance, and human need." 

The recommendation from the Carne- 
gie Report regarding faculty scholarship 
is perhaps the most important goal for 
WPI in the coming decade. As Frederick 
E. Terman, former vice president and 
provost of Stanford University, elo- 
quently said, "Quality is not produced 
by magnificent buildings nor is it assured 
by huge enrollments. It is not even based 
upon beautiful laboratories with expen- 
sive equipment. What counts is the qual- 
ity of the faculty or, more precisely, the 
quality of those few members of the fac- 
ulty who combine leadership in educa- 
tion with research qualifications in engi- 
neering and science. Outstanding faculty 
members will attract outstanding stu- 
dents who, under their influence, will be 
trained to make important contributions 
in higher education, industry and to soci- 
ety." Thus, to ensure its future, WPI 
must direct significant resources toward 
faculty development. There is no better 
way to guarantee continued quality and 
growth for the years to come. 

The philosopher Alfred North White- 
head once said that the function of a col- 
lege was "to preserve order amid change 
and to preserve change amid order." One 
dynamic that will most assuredly face all 
students in the future is change— rapid 
and in many ways uncontrollable. The 
students of today and of the years to 
come must be adaptable, yet also struc- 
tured. They must be able to reflect the 
lessons of history as they make proper 
choices for the future. But they will also 
need to be able to ride a wave of technol- 
ogy that will be difficult to control. 

To accomplish this, WPI will continue 
to develop the extraordinary undergradu- 
ate education embodied in the WPI Plan, 
but to do this WPI will need a group of 
exceptional scholars, able to conceptual- 
ize as well as teach. WPI's Campaign for 

Excellence is now in progress to help 
provide the resources necessary to sup- 
port this new emphasis on scholarship as 
a foundation for the 21st century. The 
efforts and dedication of every member 
of the WPI family will be required dur- 
ing the next three years to attain the 
ambitious $52.5 million goal of the 
Campaign so necessary for WPI's impor- 
tant and exciting role as a premier inde- 
pendent technological university. 

Dr. Jon C. Strauss is president of WPI. 

Room with a View 
Continued from page 12 

ket," he notes, "so we've invested in 
resources like CAD systems." 

Indeed, a tour of Data's facilities turns 
up computers of every size and shape: a 
room full of sales representatives log 
every phone contact by computer, engi- 
neers have them taken apart on tables, 
the marketing department has desktop 
publishing systems. 

"What often happens," Molinari con- 
tinues, "is that companies get so big that 
they become uncontrollable, and that's a 
failure of management. I think there's an 
optimum level where people can work 
well together, and when a company 
begins to get too big it needs to be broken 
down so that people are allowed to do 
what they do best." 

The key is communication. "If you 
and I are working in a room together, it's 
easy to communicate. But what about 
when there's 10 people? Or 100? The 
way you communicate has to change. So 
we spend a lot of time and energy on 
trying to communicate effectively." 

And they'll be spending even more 
time in the future. With one successful 
subsidiary currently operating in 
England, and plans to open a company in 
Germany this year and one in Japan next 
year, there's a lot going on. Data Trans- 
lation's products are sold in 42 countries. 

But, as with technology in general, 
Molinari says there is no end in sight. 

"The challenge is to stay on top. It's 
really difficult. You have to be careful 
not to stop to pat yourself on the back. 
There's too much farther to go. We've 
only just scratched the surface." 

Michael Shanley is a freelance writer liv- 
ing in Holden, Mass., and a frequent 
contributor to the Journal. 



I was both intrigued and distressed 
while reading Paul Susca's "The IQP" 
(Spring 1987). The article provides an 
interesting overview of some complex 
interactions between society and technol- 
ogy. My particular concern, however, 
lies in the treatment of the abortion issue 
by the students involved. Let it be clear 
that my goal is not to judge the students 

Can a fetus truly be considered human 
life only if it can survive outside its 
mother's womb? Is the fetus "entitled to 
its right to life" only if it is 24 weeks or 
older? What about the rights of develop- 
ing babies that are 23 weeks old, or 23 
days old, or yes, even 23 seconds old? 
Would a 23-week-old fetus inside the 
womb suddenly become a human being 
because an apparatus that could sustain it 
outside the womb had just been devel- 
oped thousands of miles away? How 
arbitrary is it to define human life 
according to the necessary means of sus- 
tenance or the latest advance in life sup- 
port technology? 

If a newborn baby were to die without 
a respirator, would it have to wait until 
being taken off of the apparatus before it 
could be considered human life? Does an 
adult cease being human life the moment 
it is placed on a respirator, without which 
it could not survive? 

The human being begins growing at 
conception and continues to grow until 
adulthood. The heart of a fetus is beating 
at about three weeks, and brain waves 
have been recorded at 40 days. By the 
end of the first trimester, the fetus 
squints, swallows, kicks, sucks its 
thumb, and has fingerprints. Yet it is 
being suggested that it would be ethical 
to mutilate and destroy a further devel- 
oped fetus! 

The point to be made is that human life 
begins at conception and continues to 
develop until it reaches adulthood. To 
deny the right to life to a fetus or any 
other person at any point is a grave injus- 
tice. As Nobel Prize winner Mother 
Teresa of Calcutta has said, society can- 
not hope to save itself if it cannot attempt 
to save the lives of its youngest mem- 

Timothy J. Watkins '84 
Naugatuck, Conn. 


with a splash of color 
and sunshine 



AUTUMN 1987 

Protecting the 

Science and 
the Engineer 




■■" ■ ■ 



Brian J. Saviloms '72, associate < 
so? of mechanical engineering an 
women 's cross-country coach, w< 
out with his '87 recruits. Photo b 
Michael Carroll. 

Staff of The WPI JOURNAL: Edi- 
tor, Kenneth L. McDonnell • 
Alumni Information Editor, Ruth S. 

Alumni Publications Committee: 
Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • 
Paul J. Cleary '71 • Judith Dona- 
hue Sim '82 • William J. Firla, Jr. 
'60 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert 
C. Labonte '54 • Maureen Sexton 
Horgan '83. 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148- 
6128) is published quarterly for 
the WPI Alumni Association by 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Mag- 
azine Consortium, with editorial 
offices at the Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages l-XVI are published for the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium 
[Franklin and Marshall College, 
Hartwick College, Johns Hopkins 
University, Villanova University, 
Western Maryland College, West- 
ern Reserve College (Case West- 
ern Reserve University), Worces- 
ter Polytechnic Institute] and 
appear in the respective alumni 
magazines of those institutions. 
Second class postage paid at 
Worcester, MA, and additional 
mailing offices. Pages 1-14, 31- 
44 © 1987, Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute. Pages l-XVI © 1987, 
Johns Hopkins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Editor, Donna Shoe- 
maker • Wrap Designer and Pro- 
duction Coordinator, Amy Doudi- 
ken Wells • Assistant Editor, Julia 
Ridgely • Consulting Editors, 
Elise Hancock and Alan Sea • 
Core Designers, Allen Carroll and 
Amy Doudiken Wells. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium: Franklin 
and Marshall College, ■ Linda 
Whipple and Patti Lawson • 
Johns Hopkins University, B.J. 
Norris and Alan Sea • Villanova 
University, Eugene J. Ruane and 
D.M. Howe • Western Maryland 
College, Joyce Muller and Sherri 
Kimmel Diegel • Western Reserve 
College, David C. Twining • Wor- 
cester Polytechnic Institute, 
Michael Dorsey and Kenneth L. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, 
BG Composition, Inc.; Printing, 
American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of pub- 
lic interest are presented in the 
magazine. These views do not 
necessarily reflect the opinions of 
the editors or official policies of 
WPI. Address correspondence to 
the Editor, The WPI Journal, Wor- 
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Volume XCI No.2 
Autumn 1987 

2 Accreditation: Why All the Fuss? 

A message from Provost Richard H. Gallagher 

4 But One Environment to Protect— Forever 

Evelyn Herwitz 

Bigger challenges and new technologies in the quest for a 
cleaner habitat. 

11 The Entrepreneurial Spirit: A Simple Story 

Michael Shanley 

That's how industrialist Raymond Perreault '38 sees his 
distinguished career. 

/ Changing Work, Changing Times Julia Ridgely 

Illustrations by Amy D. Wells 

In our increasingly competitive economy, the workday 
expands and free time shrinks. 

VIII Where the Rubber Meets the Road 

Donna Shoemaker 

Civil engineers pave the way for the structures we take for 
granted— until they fall or fail . 

XVI Freshman Disorientation Cartoons by Sid Harris 

Some comic moments on American campuses. 

31 Always Growing, Forever Changing 

Bonnie Gelbwasser 

The special challenges of collegiate physical resource 
management— and the people who meet them. 

Page 4 

Page 1L 




Page I 


38 In Praise of What Persists 

Paul Susca 

Why science continues to be vital to the education of 

44 WPI, Inc. 

Dr. Jon C. Strauss 



Page 31 

Explaining why the Institute and business have been 
friends for so long. 

Cover: Dr. Frederick Hart, associate professor of civil engineering 
(right) and graduate students Wayne Wheeler and Suzanne Lewis, 
standing on the shores of Wachusett Reservoir, work to meet environ- 
mental challenges through advanced technologies. Story on page 4. 
Photo by Michael Carroll. 

)f* m 

Page 38 

AUTUMN 1987 

Accreditation: Why All the Fuss? 

By Dr. Richard H. Gallagher 

One of the feature stories in this 
issue of the WPI Journal discusses 
the role of basic science courses in 
the education of engineers. Although the 
article amply justifies instruction in these 
courses, it notes at the outset that the 
accrediting agency for WPI's engineer- 
ing programs, the Accreditation Board 
for Engineering and Technology 
(ABET), has insisted on the presence of 
these courses in the curriculum. 

Just who is ABET? you may wonder. 
What other conditions do they place 
upon programs seeking their imprima- 
tur? How do they go about measuring 
institutional compliance with their crite- 
ria? In view of the fact that WPI is being 
visited by a team from ABET in 1987- 
88, it seems appropriate to discuss these 
and other related questions. 

ABET was created some 55 years ago 
by action of the major engineering soci- 
eties operating under the umbrella of the 
Engineers' Joint Council, with the sup- 
port and encouragement of the engineer- 
ing education community. It was known 
then as the Engineers' Council for Pro- 
fessional Development, but it has since 
changed its name to its current, more 
descriptive appellation. The term "tech- 
nology" stems from the fact that ABET 
also serves to accredit institutions that 
offer programs leading to the bachelor of 
technology degree, which is more ori- 
ented toward "hands on" practice than 
the baccalaureate degree. 

It is important to observe that ABET 
accredits programs, rather than institu- 
tions, and that accreditation, once it has 
been awarded, has a specified, limited 
life— generally three or six years. WPI 
might wish to refer to itself as being 
accredited in engineering because all of 
the programs for which it has sought 
accreditation are successful in that 
respect. However, in accordance with 
ABET policies, WPI must refer specifi- 
cally to each program that is accredited. 
If one such program were to be denied 
accreditation, however, it would no 
longer be accurate for WPI to describe 

The engineering accreditation 

process has been a strong factor 

in building the stature of U.S. 

education in the profession. 

itself as "ABET accredited." 

When an institution's accreditation is 
up for renewal, an ABET visiting team 
pays a two-day visit to the campus. The 
team consists of a chairman and one visi- 
tor for each program, and occasionally 
visitors-in-training, as well as observers 
assigned by such organizations as the 
state professional engineering society 
and the state board of technical registra- 
tion. A team of 15 or more in not uncom- 
mon at large universities. For WPI, with 
four programs (chemical, civil, electrical 
and mechanical engineering) seven to ten 
individuals might constitute the team. 

When only one program is scheduled 
for a visit, the team might consist of just 
two persons— the team chairman and the 
visitor to the program being reviewed. 
This reminds me of a story associated 
with the legendary American Indian ath- 
lete Jim Thorpe. Someone assigned by 
the organizers of a major track and field 
meet to greet visiting teams was sur- 
prised when just two persons from the 
Carlisle Indian School stepped off the 
train. He asked if there were only two 
people representing the school. Thorpe 
replied, no, there was just one: "My 
companion is the team manager." Thorpe 
went on to win most of the events. 

ABET's criteria for accreditation are 
both general and specific to the 
program being reviewed; the latter 
originate with the relevant major techni- 
cal societies, such as the American Soci- 
ety of Mechanical Engineers. Looking at 
the total four-year undergraduate experi- 
ence as eight semesters, ABET requires 
one semester of mathematics, one 
semester of science, two semesters of 
engineering science, one semester of 
design, and a semester of humanities and 
social sciences. Fully three-quarters of 
the curriculum is affected! 

In addition, there are detailed require- 
ments, bearing upon computing, writing, 
and communication. Certain students 
carry special obligations, such as ROTC. 
This helps to explain why a curriculum 


that would span more than four years is 
widely discussed, and why suggestions 
for the inclusion of other, seemingly appe- 
tizing course requirements Shouldn't they 
learn to speak Japanese and grapple with 
ledgers like a veteran CPA?) fail to elicit 
much enthusiasm. 

A visiting team also takes a careful 
look at institutional budgets, salary 
scales, faculty biographies, advising 
mechanisms, placement services, com- 
puting facilities, and laboratories and 
classrooms, among other things. They 
visit the library and supporting academic 
departments such as the sciences, 
humanities, and social sciences. They 
study the textbook used, the homework 
assignments, the examinations and grad- 
ing policies, and talk to the students, fac- 

ulty, and administration. 

My own policy, in a seven-year stint as 
visitor to civil engineering programs, 
included visiting classes and holding dis- 
cussions with the students present. 
Although an institution might view a 
visit with apprehension— and there is 
certainly a great deal of background 
work to be done before the team 
arrives— the visit itself is truly a grueling 
experience for those who conduct it. 

Visits occur in the fall semester. The 
report of the team members passes 
through many hands and committees 
within ABET, emerging officially in the 
following June or July. Along the way, 
the colleges being examined are permit- 
ted to review and respond to preliminary 
versions of the report. In recent years, 

the criteria have been stringently 
applied. Of almost 300 programs visited 
in 1985-86, only 28 percent were 
awarded the maximum (six-year) term of 
accreditation. This was down from a 
high of 58 percent eight years earlier. 

On the other hand, many observers 
argue that these statistics indicate an ero- 
sion of the quality of engineering educa- 
tion in the past decade, brought about by 
faculty shortages, inadequate equipment, 
and the striking rise in undergraduate 
enrollment. The number of graduates of 
accredited engineering programs has 
more than doubled in the past ten years, 
to approximately 80,000 annually. 

Others believe, to the contrary, that 
there has been an escalation in the rigor 
with which the criteria are applied — 
otherwise known as "bean counting." 
Today, more facets of the engineering 
educational process are being looked at, 
and higher standards are being set. Some 
observers feel that the menu of require- 
ments exceeds that which is actually 
essential for a good education in engi- 
neering. There is concern that this trend 
has worked to the detriment of innova- 
tive curricula, such as the WPI Plan, or 
of even less venturesome efforts. 

Pressure is growing for a more flexible 
interpretation of accreditation criteria, 
but at the same time there are standards 
to be set and met. If anything, the recent 
years have seen the expansion of 
diploma mills and commercial educa- 
tional operations that seek to short- 
circuit the educational experience needed 
for a professional career. 

In my view, the engineering accredita- 
tion process has been a strong factor in 
building the stature of U.S. education in 
the profession. It has been singled out for 
praise in a Carnegie Foundation study of 
such processes, which was otherwise 
critical of other disciplines, and it 
increasingly serves as a model for pro- 
grams elsewhere in the world. 

Richard H. Gallagher is provost and vice 
president for academic affairs. 

AUTUMN 1987 3 

But One Environment 

Despite cutbacks in funding 

to protect the earth's environment, 

the need to safeguard our air, 

water, and soil 

has never been greater, 

as a growing number 

of WPI researchers 

are finding. 

By Evelyn Herwitz 
Photos by Michael Carroll 

A long, cool drink after a workout, a steaming cup of cof- 
i\ fee on a brisk morning, a base for soups and gravies, a 

A^k bath for vegetables, a rinse for toothpaste— drinking 
JL JLwater is so much a part of our daily lives that we 
barely notice it. 

But the apparent simplicity of water belies the complex 
chemistry of its production and distribution, particularly for 
large populations. In a city like Worcester, which draws most 
of its drinking water from a series of 10 reservoirs in surround- 
ing towns, the risk of bacterial contamination is an ever-present 

Like many public water supplies, Worcester uses chlorine as 
its only line of defense. But knowing how much chlorine to 
add, and when and where in the distribution system to add it, is 
a mixture of art and science. Too little chlorine increases public 
health risks from water-borne pathogens; too much chlorine 
can foment the creation of carcinogenic organic compounds, 
trihalomethanes (THMs). Factors include not just the volume 
of water to be treated, but also the age of the distribution 
network and the degree to which pipes are clogged by decades 
of tuberculation— black goo that interferes with the chlorination 

Finding a way to help municipalities solve the chlorine 
dilemma has been a major concern of Frederick L. Hart, asso- 
ciate professor of civil engineering. Working with undergradu- 
ate and graduate students for the past two years, including John 
L. Meader '86 and Shih-Ming Chiang, Hart has developed a 
tool that he believes can enable public water supply operators 
to fine-tune their chlorination process. 

Called CLNET, the computer model simulates the decay of 
chlorine throughout a given distribution system. The informa- 
tion enables the operator to know where to put secondary chlo- 
rinators and how much chemical to use in order to maintain 
proper chlorine residual levels throughout the system. 

Divided into an input processor (designed by Susanne Lewis 
'87 and Steven Woodard '87 under the supervision of Grace 
Crooker Levergood), a simulator (coded by Chiang and 
Meader), and an output processor (coded by Margaret Blastien 
'87, James Connell '87, and Russell Houde '87), the user- 
friendly program helps operators to create a data file tailored to 
their systems. Parameters include flow rates, diameters, and 
length of pipes. Results from the initial simulation, he adds, are 
compared with field observations, and the data file calibrated to 
improve accuracy of future simulations. Output is displayed in 
colored graphs and tables to make the information easy to read 
and interpret. 

Requiring a 32-bit processor to handle all the data during the 
simulation, CLNET has been developed at a time when pro- 
posed federal regulations may tighten already tough standards 
on THMs. "A lot of water companies are having trouble main- 
taining the current standards," says Hart. "And the upcoming 


to Protect — Forever 

regulations are even more stringent. Municipalities will have 
an extra impetus to regulate chlorine use. 

Hart is one of a handful of WPI faculty engaged in environ- 
mental research, an area that has experienced tremendous 
swings in funding support and student interest over the past two 
decades. Although the field is no longer as trendy as it was in 
the late 1960s, research into environmental problems is, at the 
same time, no less critical to world survival. And despite cut- 
backs in government-funded research, issues like hazardous 
waste disposal and groundwater contamination present some of 
the toughest and most important scientific and engineering 
challenges to be faced in contemporary life. 

"Urban improvements are often made without thinking 
that water has to go someplace," says Dr. Malcolm S. Fitz- 
patrick, shown here with two Major Qualifying Project stu- 
dents. An associate professor of urban and environmental 
planning, FitzPatrick describes urban planning and envi- 
ronmental planning as "two sides of the same coin." 

AUTUMN 1987 5 

Wetland protection and soil ero- 
sion control have been the focus of 
several student projects. Three 
students are laying the groundwork 
for an open space and recreation 
plan for the nearby town of Spencer. Of concern is the ade- 
quacy and location of the town's groundwater supply and 
drainage system. Another student project involves study- 
ing the impact of water contaminated by heavy metals on 
fish in the Nashua River. 

Because the issues are so significant, Professor of Civil Engi- 
neering Kris Keshavan believes environmental research and the 
field of environmental engineering are beginning to experience 
renewed interest. 

"Environmental concerns are coming back," asserts 
Keshavan, "but not at the fanatical, frenzied level of the late 
'60s and early '70s, which I think probably hurt efforts more 
than it helped." 

Head of Civil Engineering from 1976 to 1986, Keshavan 
recalls the environmental movement's heyday as a period when 
"many articles were written and papers published without 
much understanding of the problems." It was also a time, he 
says, when "everyone wanted to be an environmental engi- 
neer." Department enrollment swelled to 120 students, making 
civil engineering the second largest department on campus. 

But following the Vietnam War, the lure of lucrative high- 
tech jobs began to draw students in new directions. "Everyone 
drifted to electrical engineering, and our enrollments plum- 
meted to a third of what we'd had before," says Keshavan. 
Though the energy crunch sparked some renewed interest in the 
field, he notes, the prospect of somewhat lower salaries com- 
pared with "higher tech" industry discouraged many students 
from pursuing a career in environmental engineering. 

In a dynamic economy, however, things are bound to shift 
again. And Keshavan sees evidence that the pendulum has 
begun to swing back in his direction. "Jobs are going begging 
for graduates and salaries have increased," he observes. "Stu- 
dents getting into environmental engineering now are doing 
themselves a favor." 

Once again pursuing his own research, Keshavan has turned 
his attention toward developing and perfecting innovative tech- 
nologies for wastewater treatment. 

Many modern municipal sewage treatment plants currently 
employ traditional sludge treatment processes such as sludge 

digestion, sludge dewatering, and incineration. Another sludge 
treatment process used in several cities is the Zimmerman 
process, which involves oxidizing wet sludge under high tem- 
perature and pressure. These well-developed technologies, 
Keshavan says, require significant energy levels and space. 
Their by-products include odor-causing compounds, which can 
make life unpleasant for those unfortunate enough to live down 

A new, alternative approach is the deep-shaft wet well oxida- 
tion process. As its name implies, this method of treating 
wastewater sludge involves drilling a foot-wide, mile-deep 
hole, which is then cased with stainless steel. When liquid 
sludge is pushed through the tube, the pressure at the bottom 
rises significantly. Once the oxidation process is started, 
Keshavan says, the temperature will remain high enough for 
the system to be essentially self-sustaining. Energy require- 
ments are negligible, and this wet incineration process creates 
no air pollution. 

"It's a very attractive system for locations like Deer Island 
[in Boston Harbor], where there is little space," says Keshavan. 

Sewage treatment is also a research priority for Keshavan 's 
successor, department head James C. O'Shaughnessy. Coming 
to WPI from Northeastern University's civil engineering 
department, O'Shaughnessy says he plans to involve under- 
graduate and graduate students in studies of advanced waste- 
water treatment processes. 

"We'll be looking at ways to remove nitrogen from waste- 
water prior to its discharge into the groundwater. The methods 
we're investigating require few modifications or additions to 
wastewater treatment plants," says O'Shaughnessy, who also 
specializes in treatment methods for industrial wastewater and 
hazardous wastes. 

O'Shaughnessy will be sharing this fall's project work with 
Fred Hart, who, in addition to developing CLNET, has 
involved students in another kind of wastewater research. 
Working with Kristin Nygard '87 on a project begun when Hart 
worked for a Wellesley engineering firm, he has calibrated a 
computer model of groundwater flows and pollutant transport 
beneath Barnstable, Mass., on Cape Cod. 

The problem, in this case, stems from the fact that Barn- 
stable, like many Cape communities, is experiencing rapid 
growth but uses its underground aquifer as its sole water supply 
source and as a wastewater disposal sink. Homes depend on 
septic systems for wastewater disposal, while the town operates 
a municipal secondary wastewater treatment facility which dis- 
charges about one million gallons of effluent directly into a 
sand bed. Though the sand acts as a natural filter, Hart says, the 
town has become concerned that increased municipal waste- 
water may cause a plume of nitrate contaminants to flow 
underground into the town's nearby wellfields. 

To study the plume's movement, Hart and Nygard used a 


"We'll be looking at ways to remove nitrogen from waste- 
water prior to its discharge into groundwater," says Dr. 
James C. O'Shaughnessy (left), head of the Civil Engineer- 
ing Department, who plans to get students involved in 
studying advanced wastewater treatment processes. 
O'Shaughnessy and a student created a computer model of 
groundwater flow in a growing Cape Cod community that 
uses its underground aquifer as its water supply— and its 
waste disposal system. After finding that plumes of waste 
were drifting toward municipal wells, O'Shaughnessy rec- 
ommended building sewers to limit the use of septic tanks. 

three-dimensional, computer-generated contour map of the 
town's water table. Bumps in the contour map indicate the 
plume's location, while dimples show where wells are drawing 

Projections based on population growth and discharge data 
revealed that the plume is traveling toward the south and south- 
east, potentially affecting several municipal wells. Nygard 
notes that Barnstable's options include building sewers in the 
southern area of the town to limit the addition of septic tank 
wastes to the plume, and more extensive treatment of effluents. 

That kind of interaction and conflict between economic 
development and the environment is one of Malcolm Fitz- 
Patrick's primary concerns. An associate professor of urban 
and environmental planning in the Civil Engineering Depart- 
ment, FitzPatrick describes urban planning and environmental 
planning as "two sides of the same coin." 

To illustrate his point, FitzPatrick cites the problems that 
development creates for soil erosion, particularly in wetland 
areas. "Urban improvements are often made without thinking 
that water has to go someplace," he observes. "Subdivision 
developers cut down trees and build roads, while ignoring the 
fact that trees and other vegetation help to hold water and put it 
into the ground. As a result, you get increased flooding and 
erosion downstream." 

Wetland protection and soil erosion control have been the 
focus of several student projects supervised by FitzPatrick. In 
one ongoing project, Mark Nelson '89, Valentino Tocci '89, 
and Mark Czerepuszko '89 are laying the groundwork for an 
open space and recreation plan for the nearby town of Spencer. 
Among the topics being researched are the location and ade- 
quacy of the town's groundwater supply and natural drainage 

"The drainage system is the basis of forming an environmen- 
tal plan," explains FitzPatrick. "By protecting that, you pro- 

AUTUMN 1987 

vide open space and protect the town's water resources." 

Other student projects have included a study of the environ- 
mental impact of cluster subdivisions for the Nashua River 
Watershed Association (NRWA). 

The NRWA also has benefited from student project work 
supervised by another environmentalist on the WPI faculty. 
Robert Wagner, professor of chemical engineering and a mem- 
ber of the Institute's faculty since 1949, has been an enthusias- 
tic proponent and advisor for student projects dealing with the 

Officially retired from WPI last December, Wagner— known 
fondly to his students as "Daddy Wags" — remains on campus 
this fall to supervise the department's unit operations lab. An 
avid mountain climber who scaled his first peak at age 44, 
Wagner has linked his love of nature with his work, both 
through founding and guiding WPI's Outing Club and through 
a vast array of student projects. 

For the NRWA, one of Wagner's frequent project clients, 
student research has ranged from developing a canoe guide to a 
study of tumors found in some of the river's fish. 

The latter project, which Wagner co-advised with Daniel 
Gibson, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology, drew 
on the resources of state environmental officials as well as the 
Smithsonian Institution. 

The research problem, explains Wagner, stemmed from a 
discovery of heavy metals in river sediments. "We were con- 
cerned as to whether the heavy metals were causing cancerous 
tumors in fish," he says. With the help of state fish and wildlife 
authorities, fish were procured from those sections of the 
Nashua where sediments were known to be most contaminated. 

Examining tissue segments in the laboratory, students Eileen 
Brown, Neil Garnache, and Musfik Konuk found "many 
tumors" on the lips and livers of the fish. But the question 
remained as to whether the tumors were malignant. "The kids 

Head of Civil Engineering from 1976 to 1986, Dr. Kris 
Keshavan (left) recalls the environmental movement's hey- 
day as a period when "many articles were written and 
papers published without much understanding of prob- 
lems." It was also a time, he says, when "everyone 
wanted to be an environmental engineer." But following 
the Vietnam War, the lure of lucrative high-tech jobs began 
to draw students in new directions. "Everyone drifted to 
electrical engineering, and our enrollments plummeted to 
a third of what we'd had before," says Keshavan. Today, 
the pendulum is swinging back. 


Most conventional methods of 
sewage treatment involve high lev- 
els of energy, require a great deal 
of space, and create by-products 
v % that include odor-causing com- 
pounds. But a new technique, 
deep-shaft wet well oxidation, is self-sustaining and pro- 
duces no air pollution. In the process, a foot-wide, mile- 
deep hole is lined with stainless steel. Liquid sludge is 
pushed through the tube, and the resulting pressure 
causes oxidation at the bottom. 

got in touch with the Smithsonian," says Wagner. "They asked 
us to send the removed livers to determine if they were cancer- 
ous. So we sent sections of the worst ones down to Washing- 
ton." The findings from the Smithsonian were, fortunately, less 
dire than expected: "None of the tumors were cancerous," says 
Wagner. "They were still caused by the heavy metals, but 
weren't cancerous." 

Another recent project concerning fish also involved the 
Nashua River. A tributary of the Merrimack River, the Nashua 
not long ago was deemed too polluted to support Atlantic 
salmon. As a result, when federal game officials began restock- 
ing the Merrimack with salmon, they decided to avoid the 
Nashua altogether, a move which greatly frustrated NRWA 

For help, they turned to Bob Wagner and WPI undergradu- 
ates David Kolstad and Gregory Tashjian. "First we went to 
most of the towns along the Nashua to gain evidence that in 
earlier years, Atlantic salmon ran the river," Wagner says. "But 
the latest reports dated back to the 1860s, before power dams 
stopped the salmon." 

Armed with proof that the river had, at least 100 years ago, 
supported salmon, the students next began to research the fed- 
eral government's decision not to restock the Nashua. "They 
had based their decision on a report that was more than ten 
years old," says Wagner. "But the Nashua had been cleaned up 
tremendously in that time. So we got the state to analyze the 
river, and it found that the water quality is now up to standards 
for stocking salmon." 

That project, one of Wagner's favorites, earned him and his 
students a letter of commendation from state officials. "It was a 
very interesting project," he recalls with a smile. "I feel we did 
some good there." 

Another memorable project involved a very different and 
rather forbidding locale, the top of New England's highest 
mountain, 6,288-foot-high Mt. Washington. There, several 

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AUTUMN 1987 9 

Dr. Robert E. Wagner, professor 
emeritus of chemical engineering, 
has worked with scores of stu- 
dents on environmental projects 
ranging from studying pollution in the Nashua River to 
building cloud collectors to test for acid rain. 

years ago, Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) research direc- 
tor Dr. Kenneth Kimball had been frustrated in his attempts to 
measure the acid content of clouds that envelop the summit 
most of the year. 

The problem was significant because the cloud-water data 
was being used to test a pioneering hypothesis in acid rain 
research: the idea that fog particles contained in clouds are 
more acidic than rainwater. If true, the theory would help 
explain why red spruce atop New Hampshire's White Moun- 
tains were dying, while vegetation in the valleys below showed 
no signs of similar damage. 

Working with Cornell University's Dr. Gene E. Likens and 
Dr. F. Herbert Bormann of Yale University, the AMC had 
placed cloud-water collectors at two White Mountains loca- 
tions: Greenleaf Hut on Mt. Lafayette and Lake of the Clouds 
Hut in a col, or pass, between Mt. Washington and Mt. Mon- 
roe. But severe weather and high winds plagued the collectors 
from the start, rendering data unreliable. 

Enter Wagner, himself a past AMC vice president, and four 
students: Andrew Cott '85, Bruce Daube '84, Reynold Dodson 
'85, and Peter Lamar '85. The students' mission, which 
included a seven- week term at Lake of the Clouds Hut, 
involved designing and testing a better cloud collector. 

As things turned out, the students' design was so effective 
that Likens and Bormann offered two of the students, Daube 
and Lamar, a $10,000 grant to build 12 more collectors to be 
placed at sites from Alaska to Puerto Rico. The students' 
accomplishments still give Bob Wagner good reason to glow 
with pride when recounting their story. 

"I've just had wonderful students," he says, summing up his 
years of advising. "They've produced fantastically." 

Challenging projects such as these are certainly the stuff that 
can draw students into the field of environmental engineering. 
And, thinks Malcolm FitzPatrick, exposing students to the 
complexity of real world environmental problems is critical to 
developing their ability to devise realistic solutions that will do 
more good than harm. 

"Flood control is not just a question of building a new dam," 
says FitzPatrick. "First you have to understand how the natural 
system works and the alternatives available for flood preven- 
tion. Then if you alter the system, you realize the constraints of 
that system and the potential impacts. 

"Students can get discouraged taking environmental courses 
when they discover that many problems are so large that they 
cannot be handled individually. We've got to train engineers to 
work together to solve these problems, not just provide them 
technical solutions. They have to develop an ongoing under- 
standing of the environmental system as a whole first." 

Evelyn Herwitz, a freelance writer living in Worcester, is a 
frequent contributor to the Journal. 




No big deal, nothing fancy — that's how Falls Machine founder 
Raymond Perreault 38 would have his life story read. 

A Simple Story 

Ray Perreault doesn't really want to have a 
story written about him. 
"There's no story here," the self-effacing 
73-year-old tells me when I call to set up an inter- 
view. "I'm not an intellectual or an inventor or 
anything like that." 

It's not false modesty that prompts this 
response, but rather a genuine concern that he not 
be portrayed as anyone other than who he really is. 

When I arrive in Chicopee to visit Perreault at 
the Falls Machine Screw Company, the attitude 
hasn't changed. 

"I'm nothing special," insists Perreault, founder 
and president of Falls Machine. "I can't imagine 
why anyone would want to read anything about 

He's reluctant to talk about himself, but in the 
course of a tour through the Falls Machine plant, 
where he can discuss equipment, production, and 
precision, he warms to the subject. Slowly, a por- 
trait emerges of a man who sees himself as the 
product of heredity, environment, and circum- 

To Perreault, success is more a matter of deter- 
mination and desire than brilliance and creativity. 
In that sense, he is something of an every man 
among those who built businesses in the years fol- 
lowing the Depression. Nothing flashy, you see, 
just a lot of hard work, a certain sense of intuition, 
and a couple of decent breaks. 


Photos by 

Robert S. 


If it's hard to get Ray Perreault to talk about 
himself, it's easy to get him to give others 
credit, and one of his favorite topics is WPI. 

"That's the real story," he says from his simple 
office in the one-story structure that houses Falls 
Machine, "WPI and what it's done for people, the 
role it's played in people's lives. I honestly believe 
that. What you see here had its roots at WPI." 

As if to underscore his words, the wall behind 
his desk holds several sketches of the college, as 
well as a WPI calendar. While most people have 
good feelings about their alma maters, it's unusual 
to encounter such genuine passion in an alumnus. 

Part of the reason dates back to childhood, 
which is when Perreault 's memories of WPI 
begin. He grew up in the Newton Square section 
of Worcester, just down the street from the col- 

"It seems that Worcester Tech was always a part 
of my life," he recalls. "We'd go over there and 
swing golf clubs on the fields— if they didn't kick 
us off— and ski down the hills in the winter." 

Perhaps a more telling memory involves the old 
Washburn Shops. "I used to sit on the window sill 
and watch them working," says Perreault, a trustee 
and scholarship fund sponsor at WPI. "And I 
remember that very clearly." 

He paid tribute to the memory by funding a 
machining module in the new Washburn Shops 
when they were renovated several years ago. 

AUTUMN 1987 11 


Perreault also credits his family background and 
upbringing for setting him on a course that would 
ultimately involve manufacturing. His grandfather 
was a mechanic, and his father, Henry, was in the 
jewelry business in Worcester. So Ray and his four 
brothers grew up in an environment where things 
were designed, assembled, and repaired. 

"When I was a kid living on Roxbury Street," 
Perreault muses, "I remember delivering papers 
on my route. I was about 12 years old. One day I 
stopped at a house, and there was a motor wheel 
on the back of a bike. It was covered with cob- 
webs. I asked the lady about it and she sold it to 
me for eight bucks. I took it home and pulled it 
apart, then put it back together. I put it on the back 
of my bicycle and we'd run it down the street at 35 
miles an hour. 

"After that, I bought a near-a-car, a little one- 
cylinder thing that looked like a bicycle. And I 
used to take it all apart. The next thing I knew, my 
brothers would come home with a 1930 Ford, a 
used one, a wreck they bought for 35 bucks, and 
we'd fix that up. So I got oriented toward that kind 
of thing early in life. 

"My father was one of the first people in Wor- 
cester to have an automobile, and back in those 
days, you didn't drive anywhere without a 
mechanic. He always encouraged us when we 
were working on things, but he never told us what 
to do. He'd make us do it ourselves. 

"So if you ask how I happened to get into the 
business I'm in, I say, 'Who knows?'" Perreault 
continues with a good-natured shrug. "Why does 
someone end up a writer, or anything else? There's 

For nearly 50 years, 
through good times 
and bad, Perreault 
has provided direc- 
tion for Falls 

something in our genes that leads us in a given 
direction. In a certain sense, it's just in the blood." 

WPI also turned out to be in the blood, in a 
manner of speaking. Perreault's older brothers, 
George and Harvey, both graduated from the col- 
lege (classes of '30 and '33, respectively). When 
the time came for Ray to decide what to do with 
his future after high school, he followed in their 

"I was actually more interested in the business 
end of things than the mechanical," he explains. 
"But I went to WPI because it was the Depression, 
and that was an easy way to get a good education 
and to learn discipline." 

After graduation, Perreault took a job briefly 
with Matthews Manufacturing and then with 
Wright Machine Company, which, like Perreault's 
current firm, makes screw machine products. It 
was there that he met Raymond Chevalier, who 
would become his partner in founding Falls 

"It was 1939 and everyone told us we would fall 
on our faces," says Perreault, who funded his 
share of the start-up costs with money borrowed 
from his parents. "And we damn near did just 
that. Just after we got through the normal start-up 
problems any new company encounters, the war 
started and restrictions were placed on civilian 
manufacturing. It was a struggle." 

The young company, founded in Chicopee on 
Chevalier's suggestion, survived by making parts 
for firms that built such military products as guns, 
trucks, and walkie-talkies. "In those days," he 
says, "I'd put in 60- or 70-hour weeks — 


scheduling work, designing tools, making layouts, 
pricing, talking with customers." 

Originally, Falls Machine had 20 or so employ- 
ees, although it would later expand to about 40, 
the level at which it stands today. 

"We've had the normal ups and downs," Per- 
reault says in looking back over the company's 
history. "We go with the economy. When times 
are good, we swing with it and take advantage of 
it. When times are bad, we survive by belt- 
tightening. You just do the best you can." 

Perreault is quick to credit Chevalier, who 
served as both a teacher and a role model. He also 
notes that his brother Harvey, who was with the 
company for several years before retiring in 1981, 
provided a boost. 

But Chevalier retired in 1959, and his brother 
was with him for less than a decade. So while 
Perreault downplays his own role, it's clear that in 
the overall scheme of things the company has been 
a reflection of one man. (One man, Perreault 
would add, who relied on the full support and 
patience of his wife, Ina.) 

From the outset, Falls Machine has concen- 
trated on high-quality precision work. It produces 
parts for all types of companies, from high-tech 
electronic firms to paper conversion companies to 
sporting gun and hardware manufacturers. By 
design, the company has not expanded to compete 
for huge, mass production orders. 

"We're like a restaurant that has a regular clien- 
tele," he explains. "Our customers stay with us 
and we stay with them. They pretty much deter- 
mine what we do." 

Falls Machine specializes in product orders that 
often call for tiny bevels, flattened sides (center- 
less grinding), or precise roll threading — details 
that require a combination of automatic machining 
and hand work. 

The machine screw industry itself represents a 
segment of manufacturing that hasn't changed dra- 
matically, even during the last couple of decades 
with the advent of the computer revolution. As 
Perreault notes, the new machinery housed in the 
shop today is pretty much the same as the equip- 
ment he bought decades ago— just more expen- 

"The toughest times were the late 1940s, after 
World War II," Perreault says, charting the com- 
pany's history since its founding, "and then again 
in the late '50s and early '60s." 

The machine screw 
industry has seen lit- 
tle change in the past 
few decades. It still 
demands extreme 
precision and a com- 
bination of machine 
and hand work. 

The nature of Perreault's business is such that 
production increases during wartime. So his reac- 
tion to the 1960s and the Vietnam War tells more 
about Ray Perreault the man than Ray Perreault 
the businessman: 

"The personal tragedy was so severe," he says. 
"If you talk to the boys who went over, none of 
them wants to discuss it. It was a horrible experi- 
ence to subject anyone to. 

"It was tragic what that war did to us. And the 
inflation that resulted seriously damaged the econ- 

Since the mid-1970s, Perreault says, Falls 
Machine's biggest challenge has been dealing with 
that inflation. In general, however, the last decade 
has seen fewer peaks and valleys and more 

The expansion of its grinding operation allowed 
the company to do more precise work in-house. It 
was during this period that the production facility 
was expanded and the work force doubled to its 
current mid-40s range. 

"Movement to that plateau enabled us to be 
more flexible and do better quality work," he 

More importantly, it allowed Falls Machine to 
take on more difficult jobs during a period when 
demand for complex, high-precision parts was 
increasing. "There weren't that many other shops 
that could do those kinds of jobs, so expansion 
helped us through what otherwise would have 
been lean years." 

It was a textbook case of adaptation to a chang- 
ing marketplace, but Perreault refuses to take 

AUTUMN 1987 13 

much credit for the accomplishment. 

"I think any business can stay afloat if it really 
wants to," he says. "It's a matter of sound judg- 
ment and determination." 

While Perreault believes that a conservative 
business approach is vital, he's the first to point 
out that in his own case, he thinks he overdid it on 
more than one occasion. 

"I could have been more courageous in some 
instances," he admits. "The conservative part of 
me was a result of the Depression. 

"But I don't feel cheated at all. I feel very fortu- 
nate to have gotten into business doing something 
I like, and to have had the chance to make a contri- 
bution by producing good parts for people." 

Perreault truly does enjoy the business, a busi- 
ness that might appear mundane to outsiders. After 
touring the production facilities, however, it's eas- 
ier to understand the attraction. It has to do with a 
fundamental nature of the operation: Out of an 
environment that must by its character be noisy 
and oily and, for some workers at least, boringly 

Perreault confers 
with a technician at 
the Falls Machine 
factory in Chicopee, 

repetitive, there is at heart a transformation of 
basic metal into wonderfully tooled, utilitarian 
parts. It's a variation of the spinning of straw into 
gold. And to see, at the end of the production line, 
a boxed set of paper-cutting parts, for example, in 
their gleaming fine detail, is to see a thing of 

So the key, Perreault would say to an aspiring 
young engineer, has to do not with salaries and 
trends, but with joy and simple satisfaction. 

"You try a job and if you're not content, you try 
to figure out why," he explains. "Then you give 
yourself a kick in the butt and move on as fast as 
you can. And you do that until you find something 
that you enjoy. 

"So many people talk to me about retirement," 
he continues, "and I can't fathom why people 
would want to retire unless they're unhappy in 
what they're doing. Then I begin to feel sorry for 
them for spending 40 years of their life doing what 
they didn't want to be doing. What a waste." 

Coming out of WPI, Perreault felt a complete 
distaste for the typical manufacturing environment 
of the day. 

"So when I had my own business, I set out from 
the beginning to create an environment where 
there was adequate lighting, proper tools, clean 
rest rooms, a place to sit down and have a 
sandwich— the simple things." 

Such an attitude has given Falls Machine a sta- 
ble work force over the years, and a good reputa- 
tion in the community. 

Perreault's one concession to advancing years is 
a slightly reduced workload. "A good friend of 
mine called me a fool 15 years ago," he recalls. 
"And when I asked why, he said, 'Pardon me for 
saying so, but you're still at the center of things 
too much. You haven't learned how to delegate.' 
And he was right. So I've learned. Now, if I'm not 
here for the day, I know the business goes on." 

As I am about to leave, Perreault makes a 
few things clear for the record. 
"Keep it simple," he says of the story, 
"because it is simple. I've had fun. I haven't 
invented anything. I haven't designed or built any- 
thing that would mean anything to most people. 
It's been just a little bit every day." 

Michael Shanley is a frequent contributor to this 


Nine-to-five is no longer the routine for Americans 

trying to reconcile the demands of the marketplace 

with the needs of family and personal life. 

Changing Work, 

There are offices at 
which 5 p.m. passes 
with little recogni- 
tion, where a thin 
stream of employees trickles 
out until 9 p.m. There are 
offices where lights burn on 
the weekends and staff mem- 
bers spend evenings at com- 
pany dinners and Sunday 
afternoons with clients. And 
there are homes in which 
parents sit in front of the com- 
puter long after the children 
are in bed. 

Working late is nothing 
new, but changes in the econ- 
omy have made it more nec- 
essary, even as the demands 
of the two-career family have 
made it more difficult. The 
growth of the service sector, 
the rising cost of living, and 
the move toward non-salaried 
labor are transforming the 
economy. Along with a soci- 
ety dominated by industry, 
the 40-hour, five-day work 
week is vanishing, and in its 
place is rising a week without 
weekends and work days run- 
ning into nights. People work 
at midnight, shop for clothes 
on Sunday, and pick up their 
laundry late Tuesday nights. 

On a national scale, the 
changes are about productiv- 
ity: To be competitive, com- 
panies need to get the greatest 
amount of work for the small- 
est investment. On a personal 
level, the changes center on 
time— time to secure a place 
in an increasingly unstable 
job market, and time at home 
to enjoy the lifestyle the job is 
supposed to support. 

These two absolute needs 
are clearly in conflict, and the 
battleground for the two 
antagonists— work time and 


By Julia Ridgely 
Illustrations by Amy D. Wells 

home time— has so far been 
the individual lives of Amer- 
ican workers. As a partial 
solution, companies and 
unions have proposed alterna- 
tive work schedules like flex- 
time and the four-day week. 
But so far, few workers have 
benefited from these innova- 
tions; a May 1985 survey by 
the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
(BLS) showed that only one 
in eight full-time workers had 
a schedule that was at all flex- 
ible. Meanwhile, more Amer- 
icans are working overtime, 
moonlighting, and taking 
work home. During the BLS's 
sample week, more than eight 
million workers did at least 
eight hours of work at home; 
most held full-time jobs. 
Some 5.4 percent of all work- 
ers held more than one job, 
the highest level in 20 years. 
"There's a real conflict 

because companies want 
more from their employees, 
but young people in particular 
want more leisure hours," 
says Dan Rees, associate pro- 
fessor of sociology at Western 
Maryland College (WMC) 
and a consultant to small busi- 
nesses. "People are basically 
working to enjoy life. When a 
job becomes life, and when 
life falls out of balance, it can 
lead to frustration." There are 
people who thrive no matter 
how much they work, he 
says, "but they're the excep- 

The leaner, meaner 
service economy 

in a factory are clear: a cer- 
tain number of hours and a 
certain rate of production 
equal so many items manu- 

factured. Being at work 
means taking your position on 
the line; when the shift ends 
and the whistle blows, you 
may go home: 

The majority of Americans, 
however, do not work in 
industry. While certain areas 
of manufacturing, like steel 
and autos, have been hit hard 
by foreign competition, the 
total number of jobs in indus- 
try has not decreased. But the 
proportion of people em- 
ployed in industry has been 
declining steadily. The BLS 
reported last year that while 
60 percent of employed peo- 
ple worked in the goods- 
producing sector in 1959, that 
figure had dropped to 28 per- 
cent by 1984. The BLS also 
predicted that nine out of 10 
new jobs to be added by 1995 
will be in the service sector; 
"miscellaneous" services (in- 
cluding business, personal, 
and medical) will account for 
one out of every four jobs in 
the United States by 1995. 

"With the shift to the ser- 
vice sector, clients, not prod- 
ucts, become the main form 
of how you cultivate busi- 
ness," says Ellen Auster, an 
associate professor in the 
management of organizations 
department at Columbia Uni- 
versity. "It's not a question of 
what you make, but what ser- 
vice you sell." 

Establishing a good rela- 
tionship with clients can mean 
breaking down the barriers 
between work time and per- 
sonal time, as well as be- 
tween business and pleasure. 
"In the service industries, 
you end up going out to their 
houses, taking them out to 
dinner, playing golf, and so 


The most common daily schedules of full-time workers 






8-4 8-5 

time period worked 
Times are rounded to nearest hour: 9 a.m. can be any time between 8:30 and 9:29. Wage and salary workers only. 



3-11 p.m. 

on," says Robert Stokes, 
director of the Career Devel- 
opment Center at Villanova 
University and a business 
consultant. "The further you 
go up the ladder, the more 
you have those additional 

The service economy 
demands more from individ- 
ual workers than a heavy load 
of business lunches. As part 
of the effort to make Ameri- 
can business more competi- 
tive by cutting back on over- 

head costs, many companies 
are undergoing "restruc- 
turing." This umbrella term 
covers, among other things, 
combining jobs and depart- 
ments with similar functions 
and wholesale cutbacks of 
full-time employees. Elimi- 
nation of redundant manage- 
rial positions is one of the 
most feared side effects of 
mergers. The BLS reported 
that between 1981 and 1985, 
nearly 500,000 executive, 
administrative, and manage- 

rial employees lost jobs they 
had held for three years or 
more. Of those, 72 percent 
have found new jobs, but they 
have lost the fringe benefits 
that come with seniority. 

Paring down management 
saves money; so does having 
a work force that can be hired 
or fired as the need arises. 
These ideas form the base for 
a "two-tiered" system for 
business, one in which a 
select few will hold full-time 
jobs with their attendant perks 

Who has flexible schedules? 


/ y 

10 - 

" r 

Managers and 


Service people 

Craft and 



sales people, 
and support staff 

repair people 

and laborers 

Statistics excerpted from the V. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ' May 1985 supplement to the Current Population Survey. 

and benefits. This privileged 
inner circle will set policy and 
make decisions, while a tran- 
sient force of part-time and 
"contract" employees will 
carry out day-to-day busi- 
ness. Since the early 1970s, 
Motorola, Inc., has divided 
its 90,000 employees into 
those with 10 years' seniority 
and total job security (30 per- 
cent), regular employees (40. 
percent), and a contingent 
force on six-month contracts 
that may be laid off on 24 
hours' notice. 

Rodney Austin, a WMC 
alumnus and trustee whose 34 
years with R.J. Reynolds 
included 25 as senior vice 
president of human resources, 
sees restructuring as a herald 
of the last days of the golden 
age of American prosperity. 
While the economy was rock 
solid and jobs were plentiful, 
he says, workers reaped the 
benefits of salary, leisure, and 
security with little sense of 
how great a windfall they 
were receiving. 

"I think we have had a 
tragic, sad period of generally 
lackadaisical attitudes among 
many in the work force," 
Austin says. "I don't want to 
imply that everybody's atti- 
tude is bad, but I do believe 
that it's the affluence of our 


times. Paraphrasing Mr. 
Churchill, never have so 
many had so much for which 
we did so little and have been 
so ungrateful. We've been 
here, by chance of birth, at a 
time of huge payoff coming 
for our work force." 

Austin points out that the 
change is reflected in the most 
basic attitudes toward work. 
In previous decades, he says, 
young people entering busi- 
ness sought job security in the 
form of a long association 
with a powerful corporation. 
Security meant a good salary, 
a good lifestyle for the fam- 
ily, and plenty of vacation 
time. Now such a goal may 
be beyond the reach of all but 
the most driven. 

"The bigger the corpora- 
tion was, the better the secu- 
rity," he says. "As part of the 
restructuring not only of indi- 
vidual companies, but of 
world economies, that is no 
longer going to be the case. 
There will be a small, corpo- 
rate structure of perhaps 30 to 
50 key people, and you will 
contract out the rest. The 
parking lots will still be full, 
and people will be rushing in 
at 8 a.m. People will work on 
a skill basis and be competi- 
tive in that sense. The ulti- 
mate promotion would be to 
the 'politburo' of the corpora- 

To move up in such a com- 
petitive environment requires 
dedication, and one of the 
most visible ways to prove 
dedication is working long 
hours. Like the "organization 
man" of the 1950s, ambitious 
workers of today try to send a 
message that nothing comes 
before their job. 

"Face work" — using your 
physical presence as proof of 
dedication— "is still around, 
and, if anything, worse," says 
Ross Webber, professor of 
management at The Wharton 
School of the University of 
Pennsylvania. Webber be- 
lieves that young profession- 
als making high salaries are 
particularly prone: "To show 

that you're worthy of the 
money, you work these hor- 
rendously long hours without 
any overtime pay, or with the 
informal understanding that, 
although you're entitled to 
overtime, you're supposed to 
eat it." 

Korn/Ferry International, 
an executive recruiting firm, 
surveyed 1,362 senior execu- 
tives at top corporations in 
1985. The average executive 
put in 56 hours a week, three 
hours more than in 1979. But 
working late to score points 
can be propagated all the way 
down the corporate ladder. 
Employees who see a super- 
visor staying past 5 p.m. take 
it as a hint that they should do 
the same. "That has an 
incredible effect on you," 
says Helen Vassallo, M.D., 
associate professor of man- 
agement at Worcester Poly- 
technic Institute (WPI). 
"You're saying to yourself, 
'If my boss stays late and 
takes short coffee breaks, of 
course he or she is using mod- 
eling to influence my behav- 
ior.' " 

Extreme dedication, desire 
for promotion, studious 
efforts to please those in 
power— it all sounds like a 
return to the gray-suit-and- 
briefcase world of television 

programs like "Ozzie and 
Harriet." The difference, of 
course, is that sometime 
between then and now, Har- 
riet went to work. 

Women and flexible 
hours: a risky tradeoff 

ETY has not dealt with very 
well is that we've not really 
addressed the issues of work 
and family coming together," 
says Carol Auster, assistant 
professor of sociology at 
Franklin and Marshall Col- 
lege (F&M). "We're still 
where we were 20 years ago, 
although there have been 
some improvements, like 
flextime and day care on 

America has a long history 
of manipulating the female 
work force by using the com- 
peting demands of the econ- 
omy and the home, Auster 
notes. During World War II, 
"the federal government was 
saying, 'Please come to 
work!' and making films on 
how to cook fast meals." 
When the men came home 
from the war and women 
were expected to leave the 
workforce, "they made films 
on how to make wonderful, 
five-hour meals. There were 

Who is likely to miss work for reasons 
other than injury or illness? 

Like the "organiza- 
tion man" of the 
1950s, ambitious 
workers of today try 
to send a message 
that nothing comes 
before their job. 

Women who 
maintain families, 

three or more 


youngest under 6 

Married women, 

spouse present, 

one child, 

under 6 

Married women, 

spouse present, 

two children, 

younger under 6 

Married men, 
spouse present, 

two children, 
younger 6 to 17 

Married men, 

spouse present, 

three or more 


youngest under 6 

Married women, 

spouse present, 

three or more 


youngest 6 to 1 7 




% who say 

they would 

prefer to 

work more hours 

for more money 


20-24 25-34 



65+ 16-19 

Age Group 

Helpful Hints for Working at Home When the House Talks Back 

To set your own hours, to have no visible supervisor, 
to commute only a few steps to the office— to work 
at home and be paid for it — seems like the perfect 
compromise between job and family. 

But it is the much-envied flexibility of home-based work 
that can create conflict and anxiety for those who do it. 
Kathleen Christiansen, director of the Project on Home- 
Based Work at City University of New York, says the big- 
gest challenge such workers face is putting time and space 
between being at work and off work. 

"When you shut the front door as you leave for work in 
the morning, you symbolically and literally put a boundary 
between self and personal life," Christiansen says. The 
office is a place designed for work; the home teems with 

"Home has its own language, which seems to afflict more 
women than men. As one woman said to me, 'If you work 
in an office and you go to get a drink of water, the water 
cooler doesn't say, 'Defrost me.'" 

Even more compelling than the pleas of appliances can be 
the demands of children, friends, or pets, especially since 
one of the main attractions of home work is the opportunity 
to take care of children or elderly relatives. People who 
would avoid taking personal calls at the office find it diffi- 
cult to ignore a ringing doorbell or a four-year-old's pleas. 

Christiansen says that home workers often devise going- 
to-work rituals to reinforce the difference between being on 
the job and in the home: 

"People would walk out the front door, go around the 
block, and come home. Many would turn on the answering 
machine promptly at 5 p.m. and go out and walk the dog. A 
story I've heard from several sources is about a man who 
worked as a broker who had a tape recording of the market 
opening and closing." 

Creating time limits can also help home workers avoid the 
feeling that whenever they're not attending to the family, 
they should be sitting in front of the typewriter. Christiansen 
reports a high rate of burnout, especially among people 
operating businesses out of the home. An office worker who 
wakes up at 3 a.m., inspired or driven to finish a job, can't 
hop out of bed and rush to the office. But the home-based 
worker can— and often does. 

Setting aside a work-only space in the home is essential. 
The bedroom may be the most comfortable place to work at 
the computer, but the bookshelves, TV set, and unironed 
laundry can be distracting, while the computer can become 
a haunting, around-the-clock reminder of work— especially 
at bedtime. The ideal home work place has a separate 
entrance from the rest of the home and contains things that 
symbolize work: a file cabinet, a desk set, a desk calendar. 

Christiansen explains that this separate entrance may be a 
necessary luxury: 

"Particularly when you have a young child, the door to 
the office is not a sufficient boundary. The child doesn't 
understand that Mommy has to work now." She notes that 
men working at home traditionally have had wives to act as 



films showing how children 
were running around on the 
streets and getting into trouble 
because there was no one to 
watch them." 

Women have always 
worked in the home, but their 
financial contribution in the 
20th century began after the 
enactment of child labor 
laws. "In working class fami- 
lies, traditionally the father 
and the children worked," 
says Lois Scharf, adjunct 
associate professor of history 
at Case Western Reserve Uni- 
versity (CWRU). "By the 
1920s, there were signs of 
reduction in child labor and of 
wives entering the work 
force, in a sense replacing 
their children. 

"In the '20s and '30s, with 
the increase of working 
wives, you began to get the 
sense that families wanted 
more money as the consumer 
society developed. In some 
ways, the two-income family 

today is really revolutionary, 
as much as anything is. Mid- 
dle class families really can't 
attain their desired standard 
of living on one income." 

The need to work and the 
shortage of day care have 
forced women in particular to 
find ingenious ways to make 
extra money and, when possi- 
ble, decide when and where 
they will work. Moonlighting 
and multiple job-holding, for 
instance, are on the rise; the 
BLS reported that in 1985, 2.2 
million women held more than 
one job, an increase of 40 per- 
cent since 1980. Kathleen 
Christiansen, professor of 
organizational behavior at 
City University of New York 
and director of its Project on 
Home-Based Work, surveyed 
14,000 women through a 
national women's magazine, 
and interviewed many person- 
ally. Based on her research, 
she cites the need for women to 
hold more than one job. 

"gatekeepers," screening interruptions. As it is, one-third of 
the women in Christiansen's study used some form of child 
care even while working full time at home. 

While home workers are spared the pressures of commut- 
ing or the rigid time constraints of the office, they often do 
feel lonely and isolated, with no co-workers to talk to or 
lunch with. Such feelings can put them in conflict with a 
partner who works outside the home. 

"The problem is that they're on entirely different 
rhythms," Christiansen says. "The spouse who works out- 
side wants to come home and collapse. The spouse that has 
been at home wants to get out. They've worked alone all 
day; they want to talk." 

Finding a middle ground that satisfies both is a matter of 
bargaining. Constance Pilla Uliano, a Franklin and Mar- 
shall graduate who is a part-time teacher and free-lance 
editor, has an informal arrangement with her husband, who 
works long hours managing his own construction business. 
She does grocery shopping on week nights, leaving the care 
of the two small children to her husband once he is comfort- 
ably settled in front of the VCR. "It's true you have to 
negotiate," she says. "For instance, I'll say to him, 'I'm not 
cooking on Wednesday and Thursday nights because I have 
a long day at school.'" 

Between balancing work and family and facing the conde- 
scension of those who don't believe their jobs are "real." it's 
no wonder that home workers often feel tired, stressed, and 
frustrated. But Christiansen admires them for their ability to 
turn a tangle of conflicting needs into a functional way of 
life: "I think the remarkable stories are about those who 
really do well." 

"You've got to take a look 
at the median income," she 
says. "It's going to take a job 
and a half to earn what a man 
makes in one job. In most 
jobs, there are still rigid 8-to- 
5 or 9-to-5 schedules. A lot of 
the women I've interviewed 
take multiple jobs: one for 
benefits, another for money 
or creativity." 

Another popular alternative 
is home-based work, which 
ranges in scope from a few 
hours of clerical work or tele- 
marketing to full-scale busi- 
nesses. Based on her study, 
Christiansen now concludes: 
"Home-based work may still 
be the best of not very good 
alternatives for providing for 
work and family." Companies 
out to recruit home workers 
often show women sitting at 
computers while their young 
children play contentedly— 
and silently— behind. In real- 
ity, of course, the children 
demand attention and the 
work gets put off until after 
bedtime or before breakfast, 
she notes. "To me," Chris- 
tiansen says, "'flexibility' is 
a horrible euphemism for 

As it happens, home-based 
and part-time jobs fit conve- 
niently into the mold of cor- 
porate restructuring, but not 
necessarily to women's ad- 
vantage. "There's a poten- 
tially dangerous intersection 
between the corporate need to 
downsize and the fact that 
women are increasingly look- 
ing for flexibility. To go out 
on their own offers them more 
in the short term. But I think 
as corporations are profes- 
sionally restructuring, these 
jobs are being changed to part 
time," Christiansen explains. 

So, she warns, women who 
choose non-salaried work, 
planning to re-enter the full- 
time force later, may find 
when they return that such 
jobs are no longer available. 
The positions will belong 
instead to the unencumbered 
few who Christiansen says, 
based on current seniority, 

As corporations 
scale down, women 
now stopping out of 
full-time work may 

later have little 

choice but part-time 



"will be older, white, middle- 
class men." F&M's Carol 
Auster notes that the pro- 
motions-for-loyalty exchange 
still favors men because 
"organizations use male indi- 
cators for what they consider 
loyalty. They assume that 
there's someone at home tak- 
ing care of things. Men are 
still less likely to say, 'I've 
got to stay home because I've 
got a sick kid.' " 

Since circumstances favor 
men in management posi- 
tions, women who have left 
the work force may have to 
settle for a part-time role. 
"The peripheral workers are 
going to be women, older 
workers, and teenagers," 
Christiansen says. "Older 
workers will be more in 
demand because of their 

For those left outside, work 
can still be profitable and sat- 
isfying, even more so than a 
salaried job, as in the case of 
small-business owners. But 
the potential exists to create 
an exploited class that works 
as hard, and in constraints as 
rigid, as salaried workers, but 
reaps few of the rewards. 
Companies often do not pay 
for benefits, vacations, or 
sick leave for part-time work- 
ers, but according to Chris- 

tiansen, "They're likely to 
get at least three-quarters of a 
day's work out of each person 
sharing a job." 

Contract workers, who 
make up the majority of home 
clerical workers, are particu- 
larly vulnerable to abuses of 
their time. In theory, a 
woman who does computer 
data entry for an insurance 
company may receive no 
company benefits and a flat 
rate for the number of forms 
she completes, but can set her 
own hours and "vacations." 
In practice, she may be sub- 
jected to a heavy work load 
and strict time limits, but may 
fear to complain because she 
needs the money. 

The system reminds Lois 
Scharf of the "piece work" 
done by women at the begin- 
ning of the century: "The 
truth of the matter is, it has 
always been a terribly ex- 
ploitative enterprise. This is 
the 1980 version of the 1910 
immigrant family making 
artificial flowers or finishing 
up buttonholes in tenement 

Regardless of its hazards, 
Christiansen sees non-sala- 
ried work as an overall plus 
for women: "I think compa- 
nies are motivated by their 
own bottom-line interests. It 

just happens that the supply 
side is very willing to take 
part-time jobs. The most ben- 
eficial thing is that it exists as 
a choice." 

The rise and fall of the 
40-hour week 

IN SPITE OF the leakage 
between work and home 
time— taking an hour off for a 
child's dentist appointment, 
finishing a report at the 
dining-room table— the five- 
day, 40-hour week rivals per- 
haps only the weather as a 
topic of universal interest. 
From Monday morning car- 
toons to Friday afternoon 
resort-bound traffic jams, city 
culture reflects a way of life 
that is only half a century old. 
In 1938, the Fair Labor Stan- 
dards Act instituted a 40-hour 
week and set the minimum 
wage at 25 cents. 

"My sense is that the five- 
day, 40-hour week is really a 
product of the Depression 
mentality and the need to 
spread the jobs around," 
CWRU's Lois Scharf says. 
But the drive for a shortened 
week dated almost to the 
beginning of the 19th-century 
industrial revolution and the 
extraordinary changes it 
brought about in attitudes 

Who is most likely to work the night shift? 

Eating and drinking places 

*•*••-> A 

Food service 

•••••i flL 

Transportation and material moving 

*•••*• ^^ 



Motor vehicle operators 

• •••••-A 

Protective service 


Health assessment and treating 


Health technologists and technicians 


Mail and message distributing 



Health service 

i of people in profession 

toward work itself. 

In agricultural society, 
Scharf says, "work was task- 
oriented. You did what you 
had to do as long as you had 
to; then, you could do noth- 
ing." Early industry followed 
the same cycle: "When the 
first New England mill girls 
went into factories, the work 
day and the work week were 
much like they had been tra- 
ditionally. You worked from 
sunup to sundown, longer in 
the summer and shorter in the 

The advent of assembly- 
line machines with interre- 
lated functions brought the 
need to work set hours at a 
steady pace. "A new sense of 
work discipline developed, 
and it became a discipline that 
was time-oriented," Scharf 

The emphasis on time 
rather than on intensity of 
labor was reflected in what 
American workers wanted— 
and what unions tried to get 
for them. "Up until the 
1950s, the U.S. had taken 
half of its increase in produc- 
tion in real income and half in 
the form of a reduced work 
week," says Wharton's Ross 
Webber. "For a while in the 
1950s, unions still pushed for 
a reduction of the work week, 
and we certainly got solidifi- 
cation of the five-day work 
week. Since that time, the 
formal work week has stayed 
sort of stable, partially 
because the rate of increase of 
production has slowed down. 
But what was going on in 
reality was that the work 
week for managers and pro- 
fessional people started to 
increase through the '60s and 

Webber points out that the 
increase in the amount of 
hours people spend on work 
conflicted with a new attitude 
about work's importance: 
"You had this phenomenon of 
recognition, a residue of '60s 
counterculture, which argued 
that life shouldn't be com- 
pletely subservient to work." 

Trying to accommodate the 


Multiple jobholding is 
on the rise for women 

desire for a less regimented 
and demanding schedule, 
business introduced innova- 
tions like flextime (in which 
employees can choose from a 
range of starting and ending 
times); the four-day, 10-hour 
work week; and work "sab- 
baticals." These ventures 
were part of a general move 
to make the work place more 
relaxed and comfortable. A 

focus of this drive was the 
care and feeding of people 
whose responsibilities con- 
sisted of more thinking than 
doing. The almost legendary 
pampering of research and 
development whizzes in Cali- 
fornia's Silicon Valley 
stemmed from the realization 
that "creative work can't be 
turned on and off by the 
clock," Webber says. High- 

tech factories began to leave 
the doors unlocked so that 
people's offices would be 
available in the event of sud- 
den inspiration. 

The new machine age 
brought an attitude toward 
work reminiscent of the age 
before machines, when the 
work day conformed to the 
tasks that had to be done. But 
the idea of more flexibility 
also appealed strongly to a 
growing group in the labor 
force that was feeling the con- 
straints of time. "Flextime is 
rooted in the idea of creativity 
of professional workers, but 
was also very hospitable to 
what the feminist movement 
was trying to achieve," says 

The political drive to pro- 
mote flextime has been most 
successful in government 
employment. In 1985, the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics 
found that 20 percent of fed- 
eral employees now have the 
option of more flexible hours. 
Studies show no decrease in 
productivity, modest gains in 
work satisfaction, and fewer 
sick days taken. But despite 
the widespread attention to 
and strong appeal of flextime, 
the same study showed that 
only 12 percent of workers at 
large had flexible schedules 

Since the advent of 
factories— and the 

time clock- 
employees have 
fought for a shorter 

Who is most likely to work rotating shifts? 


and technicians 



iff* "*arw* 

Hospitals Food 

8.5% service 


% of people in that profession 


Is It Your Fault You Work Late? 

Pressure to prove oneself to the company is responsible 
for a lot of late nights, but often employees must 
share the blame. Although books like Tlte One- 
Minute Manager have drawn attention to personal 
time management, there are many otherwise successful peo- 
ple who can't set goals, limit interruptions, and arrange 
tasks efficiently. Though they feel overworked, their real 
problem may be that they are underorganized. 

Dr. Helen Vassallo of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 
who has led executive seminars on organizing time, 
believes that a "system" for management is less important 
than having a clear sense of what needs to be done, when, 
and how. "I think there's more return on time management 
by not only doing things right, but by doing the right thing," 
she says. "If you set your goals properly, you'll do a better 
job of time management." She compares setting short-term 
goals to scuba diving: "Every time you come up, you've got 
to take a sighting. It's important to constantly set goals in 
small enough pieces that you can accomplish them." 

Dan Rees, professor of sociology at Western Maryland 
College and a consultant to small businesses, believes inter- 
ruptions are the leading time-waster for managers, a sign 
they may not trust employees to handle a problem alone. 
"Managers don't confront employees to handle it them- 
selves," he says. "They make people too dependent. I find 
with many that they say, T come in on weekends and stay 
after work so that I don't get interrupted.'" 

Arranging tasks to fit the natural rhythm of the day can 
help people be more productive. "Time management is 
looking at what type of person you are," says Robert Stokes 
of Villanova University. "A lot of it depends on your peak 
hours." If you're at your most alert in the morning, "pick the 
activities that are mentally draining and do them early, then 
save the other activities for later. If you are a writer who 
also has to talk to clients, then maybe you should do the 
heavy-duty writing in the morning." 

Making the most of work time is especially important 
since productivity begins to decline after a certain number 
of hours on the job. How long people can work before they 
start to feel the effects depends on the interest level of the 
job and how they respond to pressure. 

"People can't work well after six hours," says Dan Rees. 
"After that, decision-makers as well as assembly-line work- 
ers fall off in productivity. A stimulating and exciting job 
allows them to work longer hours, but decision-making 
ability does fall off." 

When people work long hours to the detriment of their 
health or productivity, companies must take action, Rees 
says, even if it means ordering the worker to stay away one 
Friday every month, or on weekends. "Believe it or not, 
they'll get upset, even if they're getting paid for that time," 
he says. 

As long as companies are demanding more work, he 
feels, they should offer more than just the occasional work- 
shop to help people control their time: "What I find is that 
the effort is too piecemeal. Really bright people go into 
management, but the demands are so great that they can't 
keep up. Companies should definitely get people to balance 
work and personal life." 

available to them. One reason 
for the slow take-off may be 
that jobs themselves have 
become more demanding than 
ever before. 

From daytime to work 
time to no time 

ABILITY of a part-time work 
force and the apparent readi- 
ness of full-timers to work as 
long and hard as necessary to 
advance, companies seem 
well equipped to deal with the 
transformation of the econ- 
omy. Given this convenient 
situation, what motivation is 
there for companies to offer 
flextime or other alternative 

The answer — fortunately 
for workers— is that the qual- 
ity of work is as important as 
the quantity. The last decade 
has seen a gradual awakening 
to the idea that the identity of 
employees extends beyond 
work hours, and that for them 
to be content— and therefore 
productive— companies must 
pay attention to all aspects of 
their lives. 

Some of the new perks- 
like providing free sand- 
wiches so that lunch breaks 
won't stretch to an hour and a 
half— have obvious payoffs in 
time saved on the job. But 
others, like on-site health 
clubs, child care, and em- 
ployee assistance programs, 
aim at easing the pressures 
of personal life. "I think 
employee counseling can 
really help," says Villanova 's 
Robert Stokes. "Stress is 
really a matter of how we 
react to a particular situa- 

Today, stress and time are 
practically synonymous. To- 
gether with longer work 
hours, the growth of inter- 
national business and such 
innovations as electronic 
communications have eroded 
evenings and weekends. 

Victims of the lengthening 
day include not only execu- 
tives but the "blue collar" 

service workers — hair dres- 
sers, dry cleaners, supermar- 
ket clerks— whose hours have 
been extended to accommo- 
date their clients. The row of 
local businesses that locks up 
promptly at 6 p.m. has been 
exchanged for the permanent 
day of the shopping mall. In 
large cities especially, con- 
cepts like "after work" and 
"Sunday afternoon" have lit- 
tle meaning. 

"I'm struck, particularly in 
New York, by the fact that at 
certain times of night, even if 
it's very late, you can be in a 
restaurant and it's full of peo- 
ple," says Columbia's Ellen 
Auster. "If it weren't dark 
outside, you'd have no idea it 
wasn't noon. There's no offi- 
cial off time anymore. It's 
such a contrast to some other 
cultures. When I was in Italy, 
whole cities closed down 
from 1 to 3." 

Perhaps nothing attests 
more strongly to the precious- 
ness of free time than how 
much people will pay to get 
it. "One of the biggest 
rewards people give them- 
selves now is time," says 
Stokes. "People buy time by 
getting a babysitter or some- 
one to cut the grass." 

No amount of money will 
buy the time most people — 
especially if they have 
children— now need. As com- 
panies adjust to the new con- 
straints of the marketplace, 
individuals are finding it hard 
to accept that what they do to 
balance their lives is both 
heroic and insufficient. 

"The big message," says 
Ellen Auster, "is that you 
can't have it all at the same 
time. Something gets hurt. 
Over a lifetime you may have 
it all, but at different stages, 
your marriage, your career, 
your children will suffer." For 
those who have yet to realize 
this, time is running out. 

Julia Ridgely works an 8:30- 
to-5 schedule as assistant edi- 
tor of the Alumni Magazine 


Where the 
Rubber Meets 
the Road 

Today's civil engineers 
follow in the tread of 
giants. But the path 
to progress has its 
share of accidents, 
detours, and 

By Donna Shoemaker 

A Roman aqueduct or an Aztec 

#m temple, a Stonehenge or a 

^^L Great Wall, an Egyptian pyr- 

^^^^amid or a Colossus of 
JL J^, Rhodes: These are solid leg- 
acies of civilizations past. All were engi- 
neered even before the profession had a 
name, before the artistry had been fused 
with science. 

Modern manifestations of civil engi- 
neering are the industrial counterparts of 
those earlier edifices, the colossal com- 
monplaces of our age: skyscrapers and 
supertankers, airports and interstates. 
Most people notice the flashier aspects of 

Painters prolong the life of Maryland's 
Chesapeake Bay Bridge. One span is 
closed until May for deck repairs. 

engineering, like the restoration of the 
Statue of Liberty (which earned this 
year's highest award from the American 
Society of Civil Engineers). 

But it is in the more mundane areas 
that engineering ingenuity may have 
raised its torch the highest by vastly 
improving the quality of daily life. Con- 
sider, for instance, facilities for generat- 
ing electrical power, treating sewage, 
and purifying water. "The contributions 
of civil engineering to improving public 
health have probably exceeded those of 
medicine," says Fred Moses. There is no 
hint of hyperbole in the voice of the Case 
Western Reserve University (CWRU) 
professor of civil engineering. Engineers 
know that their projects will be used the 
day after they are finished, he adds. 

In spite of such accomplishments, in a 
society already highly industrialized, 
civil engineers seem to have less status 
today than do their counterparts in the 
"hot" fields of electrical or computer 
engineering. They earn less money 
(although the salary gap is narrowing). 
They tend to get attention only when 


What goes up has been known to come 
down. Structural trouble spots during 
the last decade included (left to right) 
the windows that fell out of Boston 's 
John Hancock tower in 1985; the col- 
lapse this year of an unfinished high- 
rise apartment in Bridgeport, Conn.; 
the cave-in of the Rosemont Horizon 
Stadium roof in Illinois in 1979 (top 
right); and the fallen roof of the Wash- 
ington Bible School under construction 
in 1978 in Prince George's County, Md. 

their projects fail. And they are accused 
of upsetting the ecological balance. All 
of this has dimmed their light. 

In the United States, "our infrastruc- 
ture is in place, and we tend to take it for 
granted. Laymen get the impression that 
the breakthroughs aren't there. Only 
when it doesn't work do we notice and 
get annoyed. But that's misrepresenting 
it," states Ross B. Corotis, chair of The 
Johns Hopkins University civil engineer- 
ing department. 

The United States in the last 100 years 
or so experienced an engineering hey- 
day. With the growth of cities and sub- 
urbs, buildings towered above ground 
and a technological maze of pipes, 
sewers, and subways spread out below 

it. Showstopping spans like the Brooklyn 
Bridge (1883), the Golden Gate Bridge 
(1937), and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 
(1952) linked thriving areas with more 
isolated ones. "People sometimes make 
the argument that anything man builds 
diminishes the effect of a great land- 
scape," says author David McCullough. 
"But I think at heart that is a dishonest 
argument." He believes a bridge like the 
Golden Gate "makes a magnificent place 
even greater," for it gives both scale and 
drama to the landscape. 

The time between the Civil War and 
World War I was engineering's greatest 
epoch, says McCullough; he chronicled 
two of its milestones in A Great Bridge 
(the Brooklyn) and in The Path Between 

the Seas (the Panama Canal). In that era, 
"it was as if these engineers were taking 
part in one of the great crusades, and 
they knew it. The culture in which they 
lived believed in their work, and what 
they were doing was heroic," he says, his 
resonant voice reflecting the excitement 
of those days. 

Engineering flourished as well in the 
next few decades. Such massive projects 
as the Tennessee Valley Authority, 
launched by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 
1933, reshaped the region's landscape 
and economy by creating 16 new hydro- 
electric dams and modifying five more. 
The great era of public works before 
World War II produced the big projects— 
the Hoover dams— that "captured the 


public's imagination," notes Richard H. 
Gallagher, a civil engineer and provost 
and vice president for academic affairs of 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). 

The late 1930s, some would say, were 
"a time of buying our way out of the 
Depression— of getting the farmer out of 
the mud and onto the highway network," 
notes Villanova graduate Stephen Lester, 
a district engineer for the most populous 
region of PennDOT (the Pennsylvania 
Department of Transportation). 

During this bustling age, what virtu- 
ally entered American folklore was the 
image of the engineer as the "lone sur- 
veyor in boots and mackinaw, the wizard 
inventor in his workshop, and the master 
of the industrial dynamo," as a National 

Research Council report put it in 1985. 

That image still is a beacon in develop- 
ing countries, where civil engineers are 
held in high respect. As agrarian soci- 
eties undergo rapid modernization, these 
Third- World engineers find fertile fron- 
tiers. Some 200 cities worldwide now 
have populations exceeding one million, 
creating tremendous demands for sanita- 
tion facilities, roads, housing, buildings, 
mass transit, and power plants. 

"The very brightest people from 
around the world want to be civil engi- 
neers, and they come to America 
because our training is premier," Corotis 
notes. Foreign nationals account for 
more than half of all engineering doc- 
toral students in America. 

Our nation's successors to the 
ancient world's builders and 
planners are seldom the 
heroes here anymore. 
Instead, people notice the 
highly public mistakes. Architects take 
the credit if a building is a success; civil 
engineers take the rap when one falls 
down. "When we fail, we do it in such a 
spectacular way," says Corotis, who 
heads the American Society of Civil 
Engineers' Committee on the Safety of 
Buildings. The collapse of the Kansas 
City Hyatt Regency walkway; of a 
Bridgeport, Conn., high-rise apartment 
building under construction; of an inter- 
state bridge in Greenwich, Conn., are 
hard to keep under wraps. 


On-site with Four in the Field 

Wiiat has happened lately to the romance 
of the road, the rails, and the bridges? 
What 's the terrain like for civil engineers 
today ? 

From the Philadelphia area, 
Stephen Lester oversees the 
design, maintenance, and con- 
struction program for 3,900 miles of 
highways with 2,900 bridges. His turf 
includes the recently refurbished 
Schuylkill Expressway (traveled by a 
half-million vehicles a day), and the 
last — and most controversial — sections 
of the mid-county expressway, inching 
its way through populous neighbor- 
hoods. Lester earned his bachelor's 
(1965) and master's (1969) in civil 
engineering at Villanova University, 
and since June has been the district 
engineer in charge of PennDOT's five- 
county Philadelphia area. 

"The need for highways will be with 
us forever— it's not a fad field," he 

Extending roads through neighbor- 
hoods requires care, says Lester. 

notes. He is quite conscious of how 
much thought goes into designing 
roadways, making them safer for driv- 
ers and for the crews repairing them. 
For example, transportation engineers 
seek ways to help drivers avoid the 
"dilemma zone" right before traffic 
lights: those critical few feet in which 
you have to decide whether to run the 
yellow or screech to a stop. (Sensors 
that can detect gaps in the lines of vehi- 
cles will improve sequencing of stop- 
lights.) Lester is looking at alternatives 
to using salt on icy roads to avoid its 
corrosive effects. He is interested in 
improved skid-resistant coatings for 
bridges. He wants "to get new technol- 
ogy down to the municipalities." 

Pennsylvania in 1982 dedicated $1.4 
billion to rebuilding its deteriorating 
bridges, and added to that $1.6 billion 
in 1986 (the state has some 23,500 
bridges over 20 feet in length). The 
need is "absolutely essential," Lester 
believes. "We're routinely inspecting 
every one of our bridges. Because of 
the billion-dollar program, we're able 
to go ahead and get construction done 
ahead of schedule." 

In upstate New York, Tony Leketa 
heads out every day in his four- 
wheel-drive vehicle to an 1 1 -square- 
mile area of rolling farmland. There, 
2,300 workers are building a new 
Army base. Three years ago, Fort 
Drum was only an idea, but one that 
swiftly got the Army's green light. 
Four years and some $1.3 billion from 
now, the base will be getting its finish- 
ing touches. "The speed with which 
this whole thing is happening is his- 
toric," explains Leketa. 

Fort Drum will house 10,000 sol- 
diers (6,000 of them move in this 
November). Thirty-five miles of new 
roads will lead them to all-new facili- 
ties: barracks, homes, schools, a day- 
care center, a fire station, a heating 
plant, equipment and supply shops, 
maintenance areas, a skills develop- 
ment center, athletic fields, a bowling 
alley, and, of course, a shopping mall. 
"A new shopping center in the metro 
Washington, D.C., area would be no 
big deal," says Leketa, "but there's 
nothing like that here." An area engi- 

neer with the Army Corps of Engi- 
neers, Leketa supervises a staff of 30. 
He earned his civil engineering degree 
from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 

The construction of Fort Drum 
includes the single largest Army Corps 
of Engineers contract awarded since 
World War II, and the Corps is the 
world's largest construction organiza- 
tion. The adjacent town of Watertown, 
which will see its population double as 
a result, "was a little reluctant to 
accept that it was going to be the new 
Fort Drum. We were cutting roads 
through and people still didn't believe 

Often accused in the past of bulldoz- 
ing environmental concerns, the Corps 
has had to pay strict attention to the 
fact that this project lies just 25 miles 
from Lake Ontario. "We were very 
concerned about sediment control and 
the environmental impact," says 
Leketa. Miles of scrub had to be dis- 
posed of through controlled burning. 
Dozens of abandoned farms on the site 
came under scrutiny from the Corps 
and from state preservationists. 

Building Fort Drum brings into play 
many specialties in the civil- 
engineering catalog: soil and site anal- 
ysis, wind engineering, structural relia- 
bility, hydraulics, fluid dynamics, 
urban planning, surveying, transporta- 
tion, water resources, construction, 
pipelines, and mechanics. 

For Leketa, gazing over the site, 
"there's a tremendous sense of accom- 
plishment. There's not much opportu- 
nity to build something from scratch, 
right out of the ground. My idea of hell 
is sitting at a desk doing design calcu- 
lations. If I couldn't get out in my four- 
wheel-drive vehicle and see what's out 
there, it would drive me crazy." 

Based in Cleveland, Gregory P. 
Chacos is a detective called in to 
find out what went wrong and 
why, so that those at fault will know 
"whether to fight, run, or settle out of 
court." He eschews the more fashion- 
able term of forensic engineer in favor 
of calling himself a structural consul- 
tant. After earning a bachelor's (1951) 
and master's (1958) in civil engineer- 


ing from Case Institute of Technology 
(part of Case Western Reserve Univer- 
sity), for 18 years Chacos headed his 
own engineering firm, providing 
design services to architects, contrac- 
tors, and owners. 

Chacos is all in favor of advanced 
technology and used computers in 
design 15 years ago. But, he says, "to 
be a bit flip, a lot of the increases in 
current technology end up giving me 
more work. I see difficulties in projects 
that take stuff right off the computer 
printout and put it into the building 
design— the more automated the design 
becomes, the more I see funny things 
happening. Projects get horrendously 
complicated, and needlessly so." 

Consulting takes him to New Jersey, 
West Virginia, Oregon, Washington, 
D.C., and often into the courtroom to 
testify. He was called to Detroit to con- 
sult on repairing the new 2.9-mile 
"People Mover" elevated rail system, 
which suffered cracked guideway 
girders and overran its $137.5 million 
budget by more than $60 million. In 
Motown, a city more reluctant than 
most to give up its cars, the People 
Mover was dubbed "the rich people's 
roller coaster." 

His style of consulting, says the affa- 
ble engineer, is best done alone and on- 
site. "If I can't see it, smell it, and feel 
it, I can't get the proper approach to the 

Around Worcester, Mass., "the 
climate has been ripe for devel- 
opment, and it's come," says 
Carl Koontz. He monitors all building 
permits for the city's 50,000 structures. 

Fort Drum 's master plan shows the 
massive scope of the Army base rising 
from the farms of upstate New York. 

Like Chacos, he's wary of the revolu- 
tion in computerized design, concerned 
that, to reduce costs, engineers are 
"designing tighter and tighter to meet 
acceptable factors of safety." He 
emphasizes that "building codes are 
specifically built on experience col- 
lected in the past. When people start 
extrapolating past that experience, 
when engineers try to creep up on that 
factor of safety, the lessons learned are 
costly." A professor emeritus of civil 
engineering who taught at Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute for 35 years, 
Koontz last year took up this second 
career as Worcester's commissioner of 
buildings and code inspections. 

Quite typical of New England's older 
industrial areas, in this city of 175,000 
people, through the years, the main 
water and sewer pipes have become 
clogged, covered with scale, and a 
breeding ground for bacteria. With any 
decayed system in need of replace- 
ment, "a whole host of problems 
develops. How they'll be conquered 
only time will tell." Boston — only 40 
miles away— faces a $3 billion job of 
replacing its outdated sewers and 
cleaning up its harbor. Koontz sees 
these seemingly more ordinary 
problems — corrosion, wear and tear, 
repairing of hard-to-access structures, 
conserving energy vs. preventing 
indoor pollution — as being far more 
worthy of research than are some of the 
profession's enticing new options. 

The public "hears about the mon- 
sters," John Loss points out. Through a 
databank called the Architecture and 
Engineering Performance Information 
Center (AEPIC) at the University of 
Maryland, the architecture professor 
keeps track of basic information on 
58,000 buildings and public-works struc- 
tures, some dating back to 19th-century 
railroad days and even earlier. Graduate 
students are coding far more detailed 
information on 5,000 cases from the past 
20 to 30 years from state and federal 
appellate courts, forensic engineering 
files, and insurance claims. By the end of 
next year, AEPIC will have 10,000 
detailed cases, and thus can give the 
industry (and the lawyers who use 
AEPIC heavily) "a pretty good idea of 
what's happening" in terms of deaths 
and injuries, cost overruns, delays, and 
structural failures. 

Leafing through his printouts, Loss 
pulls out data on the new cases coded so 
far: "The percentage of problems is run- 
ning highest for sewage treatment plants, 
highways, pipelines, and bridges." 
Metals become fatigued; cracks develop. 
When steel embedded in concrete cor- 
rodes, a bridge pile gives way. Highways 
built to bear truck loads of 20,000 lbs. 
show the strain of tractor-trailers weigh- 
ing 90,000 lbs. 

Loss's figures show that in sewage 
treatment plants, design errors account 
for 40 percent of all failures, with the 
major defects to be found in mechanical 
equipment. But it is not always easy to 
determine how such problems devel- 
oped. Maintenance may have been faulty 
or a plant may have had soil stability 
problems. "Sewage treatment plants are 
going into the worst environment — one 
that no one else wants. They're much 
less predictable sites to be working on," 
Loss says. 

Through AEPIC, he explains, "one of 
the things I'm attempting to do is to get a 
better handle on the problems. There's 
been a lot of misinformation in the past, 
and we haven't had much back-up data." 

Not all failures are spectacu- 
lar. Routine wear and tear 
takes an enormous toll. By 
the mid-1980s, civil engi- 
neering had come to be 
identified with propping up America's 
crumbling infrastructure — at a staggering 
projected cost of $1 trillion. Students 
then, who might have entered the spe- 
cialty, instead detoured around a career 


they perceived to be drearily shackled to 
refilling the nation's potholes, replacing 
its rail tracks, and resurfacing its 
bridges, notes James O'Shaughnessy, 
head of civil engineering at WPI. But the 
students have been coming back — and 
the field has been attracting women as 
well. One-fifth of civil engineering 
undergraduates at Villanova and WPI are 
women, about the national average. 

Fred Moses at CWRU points out, "At 
first glance, it appears less glamorous to 
be involved in maintaining existing sys- 
tems, but in the long run, the jobs are 
there and it is socially useful." Dick Gal- 
lagher at WPI— whose daughter and four 

sons all became civil or materials- 
science engineers — sees students now 
choosing civil engineering because of the 
significant jobs created by repairing that 
infrastructure. Villanova's graduating 
civil engineers can select from four or 
five good offers, says Jim Schuster, a 
professor of civil engineering who has 
taught there for 28 years. 

"Enlivened and enlightened teachers," 
adds David McCullough, can inspire in 
students a sense that this is a profession 
that "walks in the tread of giants." Good 
teachers can encourage future engineers 
to avoid what he calls the "tunnel 
vision" of narrow specializations with no 

Civilizing a Nation 
in its Youth 

For lack of a homegrown crop, 
America of the late 1700s 
imported civil engineers. To taper 
off that dependence on European 
expertise, Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, 
established West Point Academy, hop- 
ing it would develop an American 
corps of civil engineers, and it did. 

It was an Englishman who had to 
show the Yankees how to build a turn- 
pike when the first major one to be 
constructed in the United States (1792- 
94) washed out in the rain and sent 
horses stumbling. Pennsylvania's Lan- 
caster Pike, a 66-foot- wide earth-and- 
pounded-stone road, joined its name- 
sake (the largest inland city at that 
time) with the largest metropolis, the 
port of Philadelphia, 62 miles away. 

By the mid- 1800s, civil engineering 
had earned its spurs as a profession— 
the first engineering specialty to do so. 
The railroads had played a major part. 
In 1869 in Utah, the Golden Spike was 
pounded in to complete the first trans- 
continental railroad, thus linking the 
coasts and opening up the country as 
never before. 

But even at the end of the 1800s, a 
city Philadelphia's size had no munici- 
pal waterworks, until the British-born 
Benjamin Henry Latrobe designed the 
first steam-powered water pumps. His 
project met with great skepticism, but 
he won over the doubtful when he and 
three friends opened the hydrants one 
night, fired up the wood-and-coal- 

fueled boiler, and showed how the 
Schuylkill River could be pumped to 
the people. 

In early America, "a lot of barns 
sagged and buildings fell down, and 
gradually people adjusted and learned 
to build them better," Henry Muller 
explains. The former school principal, 
after retirement, turned his attention to 
his avocation, historic buildings. Mul- 
ler supervises teams of masons, con- 
tractors, carpenters, historians, archi- 
tects, and blacksmiths who are 
restoring private homes and churches 
in the central Maryland area. 

When the roofs leak badly, the walls 
wobble, or the floors sink into the cel- 
lar, Muller calls in the civil engineers. 
In such cases, "we're afraid to do any- 
thing without someone who under- 
stands the forces involved," especially 
for structures built long before the days 
of stress-tested materials, notes the 
1949 graduate of Western Maryland 

Those buildings that stood the test of 
time did so because they were "basi- 
cally overbuilt." Massive beams, thick 
masonry walls, and mortar lavishly 
applied held many a homestead 
together. Yet we may have lost some 
valuable construction techniques from 
the past, says Muller, among them 
mortise and pinion joints to fasten 
wood. "Those things have some 
usefulness— it's sad they're so labor 

humanistic, civilizing perspective. They 
can lead students to become the problem- 
solvers for the "very large, very impor- 
tant, very critical problems" that lie 
ahead. "There has never been a greater 
opportunity for talent," the author 
believes. "So much of what we built in 
the past has to be replaced and 

Who would not want a 
bridge to be safe, or a ; 
highway kept in good 
shape? But in many areas 
of engineering, the solu- 
tions aren't so clear. Recently, the per- 
ception has been growing that the civil 
engineer is a "morally ambiguous actor 
in society," noted another 1985 National 
Research Council report. The profes- 
sionals once admired for harnessing 
nature and its resources are now seen as 
contributing to an "insupportable insult 
to the environment." 

"Our activities are much more under 
scrutiny today— nuclear power plants, 
off-shore oil platforms— these take layers 
of review to provide adequate protection 
against errors," explains Fred Moses at 
CWRU. Adds Stephen Lester at Penn- 
DOT, "We have to be very conscious of 
the environmental problems. You can't 
go in and build a highway from point A 
to point B. You have to take into account 
water quality, residential neighborhoods, 
safety factors, blending in improvements 
with existing contours, and keeping in 
mind the priorities people have." 

Engineers tend to look at the use of 
land "in terms of time periods that are 
human and historic," states geomorphol- 
ogist Dorothy Merritts, "but geologists 
look at it in terms of millions of years." 
Geologists are especially concerned 
about the dangers of overusing resources 
and underestimating the long-term 
effects of large-scale projects. If not 
sited properly, construction and develop- 
ment can lead to landslides, erosion, the 
lowering of groundwater levels, and sub- 
sidence. That confluence of human land 
use and natural forces has produced a 
caldron of controversy. 

In a city like Los Angeles, "they've 
paved everything solid" and lined the 
river and stream beds in concrete, adds 
Merritts, a Franklin and Marshall Col- 
lege assistant professor of geology. After 
heavy rains, deep gullies form, streams 
overrun their banks, and flooding can be 
severe. Los Angeles draws its water 
from as far away (some 500 miles) as the 


Colorado River, also heavily tapped by 
Southwestern cities. As a result, lakes 
once plied by steamboats now are dry or 
too saline to be of much use, animal life 
has been displaced, and the variety of 
plant life reduced. 

The 1970s environmental movement 
brought far more rigid requirements for 
assessing the impact of construction on 
swamps, marshes, and wetlands; on the 
food chain; on endangered species; on 
the pollution of water, land, and air; and 
on historical and archaeological sites. In 
less developed countries, such environ- 
mental effects are cause for concern as 
well. That Third-World dam generating 
power for city dwellers deprives the sur- 
rounding farm land of its fertilizing 
floods and thus may ruin the rural econ- 
omy. Add to those challenges such 
emerging problems as the disposal and 
transportation of hazardous wastes, and 
it appears that "we keep finding new 
problems faster than we can alleviate the 
old ones," notes O'Shaughnessy at WPI. 

"Many engineers recognize that they 
create an impact on the environment and 
on residential areas, and they have to 
design to mitigate that impact," says Jim 
Schuster at Villanova, who designed the 
walls used to reduce traffic noise follow- 
ing the widening of the Pennsylvania 
Turnpike. He talks about how design now 
"is for people and the environment and 
not the vehicle in the roadway." Years 
ago, highway signs were encased in con- 
crete; now "breakaway" design reduces 
injuries when a car hits one head-on. The 
industry calls it "forgiving" design. 

There is a lot of talk— and 
action — in civil engineering 
about serving the public as 
well as a client. But the pri- 
vate sector is assuming a 
larger responsibility for what were once 
considered public works, for example, 
constructing a plant to transform trash 
into energy or connecting a freeway 
ramp directly to a shopping mall. IBM is 
picking up the multimillion-dollar tab for 
roads and a sewage treatment plant for its 
office in Southbury, Conn. Businesses 
know, says Villanova's Schuster, that 
with dampers on taxes and a drying up of 
federal funds, "they won't get it built in 
the near future unless they do it." 

Building better, sturdier, safer, and 
more economically — amidst growing 
constraints— characterizes the challenge 
to civil engineering. Once built, facilities 
have to be maintained, says Schuster, so 

the design has to make it easy to get in 
there and paint, repair, or resurface. 
Some new materials have reduced the 
frequency of repairs: For instance, high- 
way bridges constructed since the '60s 
use steel that resists atmospheric corro- 
sion. As resources shrink, "we have to 
show how best to use them. You can't 
replace the nation's 250,000 bridges 
tomorrow. So what's the best strategy 
considering cost, safety, public liability? 
Often the repair requires much more 
planning, coordination, and thought than 
building the original structures," notes 
CWRU's Fred Moses, with whom Ohio 
officials consult frequently to evaluate 

found numerous significant uses for 
computers, Corotis points out. Engineers 
can reduce corrosion by using a direct 
electrical current on steel anchor cables 
on bridges. They can deploy sophisti- 
cated remote sensing— which grew from 
the 19th-century French military's use of 
hot-air balloons for aerial photography— 
for mapping routes, conducting feasibil- 
ity studies, and gathering data on ter- 
rains. A computational method WPI's 
Dick Gallagher pioneered in the 1950s at 
Bell Aircraft, called the finite element 
method, enables engineers to understand 
and design such complicated systems as 
Lunar Excursion Modules, computer 

In high winds, a 400-ton concrete block running up the middle of the Citicorp 
Center in New York can be moved to control the superskyscraper's sway. 

the safety of the state's bridges. 

To search for cracks, leaks, and flaws, 
engineers are employing nondestructive 
evaluation techniques, among them elec- 
tromagnetic radiation and stress waves as 
well as ultrasonics, radar, infrared ther- 
mography, and other methods. "Civil 
engineering sounds very rudimentary 
because we use natural materials, steel, 
and concrete," explains Ross Corotis at 
Hopkins. But it's not. Composite materi- 
als behave in complicated ways, and the 
waves used in the tests may not always 
pinpoint the problem, he adds. But 
progress is being made. Researchers at 
Hopkins, for example, have been able to 
induce a magnetic field to find rust spots 
(called holidays) as small as a dime when 
the plastic coating on gas pipelines dete- 
riorates and exposes the steel to oxygen. 

Such technologies and methods— more 
so than the materials— are where the 
most promising recent developments 
have come from. Civil engineers have 

components, and superskyscrapers by 
studying their smaller, discrete parts, 
then linking them back together to ana- 
lyze the whole. 

Civil engineers will continue to set 
their sights on such societal needs as 
constructing correctional facilities, 
improving overcrowded airports, and 
providing innovative ways to build under 
water. They are designing megastruc- 
tures in which 10 to 20 stories function as 
a single structural unit, they are stretch- 
ing suspension spans across several 
miles, and they are contributing to build- 
ing ships and to the exploration of space. 
For professionals so closely tied to the 
earth's surface, civil engineers — far from 
feeling earthbound— see their future 
projects digging deeper, stretching 
wider, and soaring higher than ever 

Donna Shoemaker is editor of the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium. 



. ♦ . a short-lived rite of fall 


Sid Harris takes a fresh look at 
the first semester. The cartoon- 
ist's collected works include 
Chicken Soup and Other Medi- 
cal Matters, What 's So Funny 
About Computers ?, and Science 
Goes to the Dogs. 

Type A Freshman: Changed courses four times, took a job, 

organized a protest, quit the job, plans to take 

second semester abroad. 

"I don't think Wally is going to last 
here. He found orientation week too difficult." 


'You find out about starting salaries when you 
finish college— not when you start it." 


Here, as at other universities, those who build and maintain 
physical resources have a unique perspective on the campus. 


By Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Take a walk through the cam- 
pus and it won't be long 
before you encounter some- 
one from the Department of 
Plant Services painting the 
trim in a hallway, reseeding a grassy 
area, tending to custodial chores, or re- 
staining the intricately carved arches of 
Alden Memorial. 

John E. Miller, vice president for 
physical plant, explains that the depart- 
ment's mission is to "maintain and oper- 
ate facilities, plan for their major upkeep 
and repair, and work with architects and 
engineers to develop designs and con- 
struct new facilities. Former College 
Engineer Anthony Ruksnaitis '53 puts it 
another way: "The department is there 
for the safety, comfort, and convenience 
of the students, faculty, and staff." 

The objectives of the $52.5-million 
Campaign for Excellence reflect the 

AUTUMN 1987 31 

To remain the 
pleasant place it 
is, the campus 
requires year- 
round mainte- 
nance and atten- 
tion to detail. 

Institute's commitment to the upkeep of 
the campus as a vital component of a 
WPI education. In addition to seeking 
funds for enhancing the undergraduate 
academic program and adding faculty 
and new programs, a goal of $19.6 mil- 
lion has been set for physical plant devel- 

The money, Miller explains, will be 
used for projects like the construction of 
Fuller Laboratories, which will house 
WPI's information sciences, the Com- 
puting Services Department, and a 400- 
seat lecture hall; completion of renova- 
tions to Salisbury Laboratories for 
programs in biomedical engineering, 
biology, and biotechnology; construction 
of an addition to Goddard Hall for the 
Chemical Engineering Department; ren- 

Once assigned to a few faculty 

members, operation and upkeep 

of the campus now rests in the 

hands of the 80-member Plant 

Services Department. 

ovation of the outdoor athletic facilities 
(completed in 1986); property acquisi- 
tion to meet future needs for student resi- 
dences and offices for support functions; 
and a continuation of the campus beauti- 
fication program. 

An additional $5 million in unre- 
stricted funds is being raised to enable 
the college to take advantage of unfore- 
seen opportunities and to limit the need l;l 
for deferred maintenance (like long-term i 
wear and tear on buildings, roof replace- 
ments, and masonry repairs). 

Donald F. Berth '57, vice president forr 
university relations and executive officer r 
of the Campaign, admits that generating i 
contributions for Plant Services can be 
difficult. "Tuition represents only 45 to 
48 percent of the actual operating cost of i 
the institution, which includes such items J 
as heat, plumbing, and grass for the' 
baseball diamond," he says. "It's tough 


to raise money to replace rusted nails in 
slate roofs, to take out bricks that have 
cracked because of water penetration, to 
replace dead trees on the campus, to 
repair parking lots, pull the weeds, and 
paint the residence halls." 

Ruksnaitis, who retired earlier this 
year, established the plant services 
department in 1956, when an active 
building and renovation program was 
under way. In the mid- to late 1950s, 
Morgan and Olin Halls were completed, 
along with an addition to Alumni Gym- 
nasium; Boynton Hall, Washburn Shops 
North Wing, and Atwater Kent were ren- 

Before that, Ruksnaitis says, faculty 
members were assigned particular main- 
tenance tasks. He recalls, for example, 
that A.J. Knight, professor of engineer- 
ing, was charged with the upkeep of the 
buildings and grounds. William Locke of 
electrical engineering supervised electri- 
cal maintenance and distribution, and the 
power plant was under the direction of 
Prof. Robert Kolb of the mechanical 
engineering department. 

These days, Miller says, his depart- 
ment maintains 1 . 1 million square feet of 
buildings, from academic and adminis- 
tration buildings to two gymnasiums and 
62 acres of landscaped grounds, parking 
lots, and access ways. Miller, who has a 
bachelor's degree in mechanical engi- 
neering and a master's degree in manage- 
ment from Clarkson University in Pots- 
dam, N.Y., came to WPI in 1982 from 
American Optical Co. in Southbridge, 
Mass. He says the work of Plant Services 
is divided into three categories: engi- 
neering, administration, and operations. 

Engineering, he says, involves partici- 
pation in the design and construction of 
new buildings. "There has been about 
$13 million in capital construction here 
at WPI in this five-year period," he says, 
"and we work annually on about 60 to 80 
other projects in a wide range that 
includes deferred maintenance, smaller 
renovations, and the construction of new 
labs and reallocation of space." 

Frank Mancini is a modern-day 
keeper of the keys. For the past 
dozen years, this quiet, dignified man 
has been responsible for keeping track 
of every key on campus— no small 
task, considering that there are locks on 
approximately 3,000 classrooms, labo- 
ratories, mechanical rooms (like eleva- 
tor control and electrical rooms), 
offices, bathrooms, and dormitories. 

A member of the Department of 
Plant Services, Mancini works closely 
with campus police and tradespeople to 
provide access and security for students 
and staff members. "My job is the 
most demanding classification on cam- 
pus. Security here is very big," he says. 

In his crisply pressed khaki uniform 
and visored cap, calmly fielding calls 
that come in one after another on his 
mobile telephone, Mancini explains 
that his job includes "repairing and 
replacing broken locks, resetting locks, 
and re-keying buildings or doors if keys 
are lost. Every school key is made right 
in my shop using special blanks pro- 
vided by just two key manufacturers." 

He adds that whenever a building is 
constructed or renovated new locks are 
installed and keys made. Most of the 
time, "the factory and I coordinate the 

job together. They make the locks and 
install the hardware; I install the per- 
manent lock and maintain the system." 
A soon-to-be-computerized file of 
7,000 key codes ("the cut of the key") 
enables him to create new keys, dupli- 
cate keys, and set up locks as needs 

Mancini was a construction worker 
and union carpenter before he joined 
the WPI staff. Day to day, he says, 
"you learn by trial and error." He notes 
that the trade has been changing as the 
industry expands to include computer- 
ized locks, electronic locks, and alarm 

Although students sometimes test his 
skills and patience — "They kick off the 
door knobs or put shaving cream and 
glue into the locks" — Mancini remains 
philosophical. "I expect that here, 
because the kids come here to study 
and also to have a little fun. It's par for 
working at a school where kids will be 

Despite the frustrations, and his view 
that the shop "needs more than two 
hands to operate," Mancini says he 
loves his work: "The people are nice, 
and management is great— very knowl- 
edgeable and conscientious." 

AUTUMN 1987 33 

Administratively, the department over- 
sees the operation of the 800-line tele- 
phone system; internal material acquisi- 
tions; purchase order preparation for 
goods, services, and contracts; and 
approximately 3,000 work orders a year. 
In addition, he says, "We lead the safety 
efforts on the campus." Miller is chair- 
man of the Campus Safety Committee, 
which is "concerned with fire safety, the 
right-to-know law, hazardous waste dis- 
posal, and machine shop and general 

A total of 60 employees staff the oper- 
ational division of Plant Services, which 
includes the power house— "We have 
three boilers and use more than a half- 
million gallons of heating oil each | 
year"— the buildings department, which i 
handles custodial duties; the grounds 

John M. Cuth 72 ME: 

Snow and Sports in Marquette, Michigan 

As manager of trades and utilities at 
Northern Michigan University, 
John M. Cuth is responsible for an 
annual budget of $1.4 million, 67 
buildings encompassing six million 
square feet— including all building sys- 
tems, heating, ventilation, cooling, and 
operation— and maintenance of the cen- 
tral heating plant. But because of the 
university's location, Cuth deals rou- 
tinely with problems most college plant 
administrators never face. 

The 300-acre main campus (an addi- 
tional 175 acres is used for summer 
research camps) is located on the 
shores of Lake Superior in the city of 
Marquette, which Cuth describes as 
"the fourth coldest place in the lower 
48 states," with 250 to 300 inches of 
snow each year. Although his depart- 
ment is not charged with snow 
removal, he says that "the challenges 
include the heating load and the added 
sense of urgency if things aren't work- 

ing when it's minus 35 and the winds 
are blowing." 

In addition, Cuth says he has to con- 
tend with "a very, very short construc- 
tion season," which has an impact on 
the timing of such projects as repairs 
and outdoor painting. "There's snow 
on the ground as late as the last week in 
May and generally by the first of Octo- 
ber," he adds. "We're in a rural area, 
175 miles north of Green Bay, Wis., 
and 80 to 90 miles from the nearest 
interstate highway. We have a lot of 
trouble getting all kinds of supplies and 
materials, which has an impact on 
scheduling and planning." 

In February 1985, the university was 
one of only three to be designated a 
training center by the United States 
Olympic Committee. Ground breaking 
for a new sports complex with an 
enclosed dome — the largest clear span 
wood structure in North America — 
took place this fall. 

The Michigan State Track and Field 
Games were held on the campus in 
August. More than 4,000 athletes were 
on campus for three days of competi- 
tion. Cuth's department responsibilities 
included providing shuttle buses, 600- 
amp service, scaffolds, and staging. "It 
was a tremendous organizational expe- 
rience," he says. 

Cuth says that because physical plant 
is second only to personnel in cost for 
an organization, good management and 
maintenance "can be translated into 
large dollar savings. 

"We as engineers have to sell our 
programs and show the cost advantages 
of a first-rate maintenance organiza- 
tion, particularly with regard to prob- 
lems like shrinking enrollment and cut- 
backs in funding." Of engineering as a 
whole he says, "It's an interesting pro- 
fession. People never call you and say, 
'Thanks a lot, my roof isn't leaking.' 
People call when they have problems.' 


department; and the trades group, a man- 
ager and 12 employees responsible for 
technical maintenance like carpentry, 
plumbing, electrical work, heating, 
painting, and lock and door repair. 

Miller's annual budget, he says, is 
about $3.9 million, which represents 10 
percent of the college's budget. Deferred 
maintenance is one of the major chal- 
lenges in keeping the plant up to date. 
The buildings are of different types, 
uses, and construction. They were built 
over a number of years— the oldest is 
nearly 125, the newest just two years 
old. All are unique, and they wear out. 
Every organization that has a physical 
plant must recognize that buildings are 
constantly, perhaps imperceptibly, dete- 
riorating. If there are no funds for 
upkeep, owners can accrue a "debt" to 

"If classrooms weren't open 

in the morning or the 

dormitory showers ran cold, the 

campus would be a very 

different place." 

their buildings that will be expensive to 
pay off. 

"In general, that has not been the case 
at WPI over the years," says Miller. "We 
want to keep it that way by aggressively 
budgeting and planning over a special 
time cycle the maintenance and replace- 
ment of major building components." 
Based on the types of buildings, he adds, 
an organization can be expected to spend 
1 to 2 percent of the replacement value of 
the buildings in annual maintenance. If 
the buildings average over $100 per 
square foot in value, $1 to $2 million 
could be the cost of day-to-day and long- 
term maintenance. 

William R. Grogan '46, dean of 
undergraduate studies, underscores the 
importance of Miller's goals to the entire 

Frank Kuszpa '68: 

Growing with the University of Hartford 

The challenge for administrators is 
achieving a balance between the 
academic and operational needs of col- 
leges and universities," says Frank 
Kuszpa, assistant vice president for 
operations at the University of Hartford 
in West Hartford, Ct. "There will 
never be enough money to run the cam- 
pus as we'd like to. The issues are bal- 
ancing the budget and providing educa- 
tion at a college without sacrificing the 

Kuszpa was director of physical plant 
at the university before assuming his 
current post in 1986. He is responsible 
for a 175-member staff and supervises 
all physical plant operations for the 
8,000-student liberal arts college. 

He also serves as president of the 
Southern New England Association of 
Physical Plant Managers and is secre- 
tary of the national organization. After 
graduating from WPI in mechanical 
engineering, he went on to earn a mas- 
ter's in mechanical engineering from 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is 

completing an executive M.B.A. at the 
University of Hartford. 

"Engineering gave me a great back- 
ground and taught me logical thought 
processes," he says. "But being suc- 
cessful in my work means going out 
and talking with people. I don't like 
sitting in an office and shuffling papers. 
I visit students, faculty members, and 
deans to discuss their concerns and 
problems." Kuszpa agrees with 
Malcolm Forbes, who said that his 
most important resources were the peo- 
ple who reported to him. "I am very 
much that way. I see myself as mentor 
to my staff." 

The University of Hartford was 
founded almost 30 years ago. "As you 
reach 30," says Kuszpa, "maintenance 
starts piling up." He recently formu- 
lated a capital spending plan that has 
placed all university projects in one 
computer data base: "This way, when 
the time does come to make a decision 
between academic programs and other 
needs, you can make an educated 

The university is growing, with sev- 
eral projects on the books or under 
way: an 850-bed dormitory, a new 
physical education center, and a $21- 
million university center, expect to be 
completed in September 1988. 

"We're toward the end of a $30- 
million capital campaign, and generat- 
ing funds for plant maintenance has 
been one of our major challenges," he 
says. "You could construct all these 
buildings and you approach a company 
and say, 'Wouldn't you like to give a 
million dollars toward the mainte- 
nance?' They want to see their money 
in concrete or their names on the build- 
ing. Donors generally aren't interested 
in saying, 'I'm helping to keep the 
place clean.'" 

AUTUMN 1987 35 

David R. Collette '67: 

Serving Mount Holyoke 

Asked to describe his job, David R. 
Collette '67, Mount Holyoke Col- 
lege's director of physical facilities, 
says laughingly, "I'm responsible for 
everything that's broken." He then 
explains, "I have about 200 people 
working for me: custodians, house- 
keepers, craftsmen (plumbers, paint- 
ers, steamfitters, carpenters, electri- 
cians), office staff, storekeepers, 
general laborers, and groundskeepers." 

Mount Holyoke, founded in 1837, is 
the country's oldest institution offering 
higher education to women. The 800- 
acre campus, located 12 miles north of 
Springfield, Mass., has 100 buildings 
with 2 million gross square feet. 
Approximately 1,950 female students 
are enrolled in undergraduate and a 
limited number of graduate programs. 

Collette says that as a women's 
school, "the challenges are different- 
security problems are higher, damage 
problems are lower," but adds that 
Mount Holyoke, like other private 
institutions, share needs to hold the line 
on spending in spite of a growing facil- 

Mount Holyoke is celebrating its 
150th birthday this year, and members 

of Collette's staff are responsible for 
maintaining everything from the earli- 
est structures — "Some of my housing 
units were built before 1800" — to the 
new, 65-stall equestrian center, which 
is part of the physical education facili- 
ties. A new campus center, expansion 
of the library, and the construction of 
an academic building for the language 
department are planned for the future. 

Collette says of his work, "It's a 
service position, so you get the joy of 
meeting the needs of an academic com- 
munity. Personally, I like working with 
people directly, seeing them grow, 
making them better managers and bet- 
ter workers, putting fun in the work- 
place." Any maintenance position has 
an image problem, he claims. "Mainte- 
nance people feel insecure more than 
they should. My own personal feeling 
is that the relationship between mainte- 
nance people and faculty at Mount 
Holyoke is excellent." 

Collette, who has a master's degree 
in business from American Interna- 
tional College and has held his current 
post for two years, says that in order to 
succeed at the job, "You have to be a 
good manager and a good engineer." 

"In large part, prospective 

students measure colleges in 

terms of what they can touch 

and see." 

educational program. "If the classroom 
buildings aren't open in the morning," he 
says, "or the showers in the residence 
halls don't have hot water, the campus 
would be a very different place to live in 
and to operate." To a certain extent, he 
notes, Plant Services provides all those 
things we take for granted — "And they 
do it day after day. People only think of 
them when something goes awry." 

Plant Services also plays a less obvi- 
ous role, he adds. In a college with 2,600 
undergraduates, it's vital that the ambi- 
ence of the campus and buildings be 
maintained: "There really are only two 
states for a college campus," Grogan 
claims: "very well maintained, where 
the staff respects and continues that high 
quality of maintenance; and one that 
when things start to slip, they very 
quickly go all the way with graffiti, holes 
in the walls, junk on the lawn, and bro- 
ken windows. It takes considerable 
energy on the part of Plant Services to 
maintain the top state. We feel we have a 
very attractive campus here. It has a big 
effect on admissions." Especially at the 
price of a WPI education, he says, 


Completed in 1985, the 225-bed Found- 
ers Hall was the largest construction 
project undertaken by WPI. Now on the 
drawing board is Fuller Laboratories, a 
$6 million information sciences center (inset). 

"Nobody wants to live in a dump! " 

Robert G. Voss, executive director of 
admissions and financial aid, says that a 
survey of undergraduates admitted for 
1986 revealed that 92 percent of the 
respondents said that campus appearance 
was an important factor in their selection 
of the college. Other items included 
project activities, which rated first at 95 
percent, and quality of labs and student 
activities, rated at 93 and 91 percent, 

Voss says that a positive campus 
image is an important marketing strat- 

egy: "If people perceive our campus to 
be pleasing, and it's important to them, 
then we want to promote that fact. It's 
awfully difficult to measure the quality 
of academic programs. Students have a 
heck of a time figuring that out, so they 
often measure colleges in terms of what 
they can touch and see." 

"The physical plant is incredibly 
important to the functioning of the col- 
lege," Miller claims. "It provides the 
roof; it provides the services. The plant 
people do their jobs and more. We're 
responsible for so many of these little 

things for so many people. We're the 
service sector." 

The department's toughest job, he 
says, is realizing its importance and the 
importance of the services its people pro- 
vide. "It's sometimes difficult to find our 
role in such a sophisticated environ- 
ment," Miller says. "The service we pro- 
vide at this college is essential to its oper- 
ation. These needs exist, and they have 
to be addressed." 

Bonnie Gelbwasser is a freelance writer 
living in Rutland, Mass. 

Winthrop M. Wassenar '59, '60 MCE: 

Williams College Director Finds His Job Interesting and Frustrating 

Winthrop M. Wassenar '59, of Wil- 
liams College in Williamstown, 
Mass., says, "The job at different 
schools varies. At the larger ones, plan- 
ning and plant are separate; at Wil- 
liams, what I do is serve as director of 
facilities and planning. 

"The job has two parts: the day-to- 
day maintenance and operation of the 
campus from the custodial to the 
grounds crew with responsibility for all 
the trades necessary to keep a large 
plant going, and planning, accom- 
plished with a full-time staff, including 
a registered architect, a registered 
mechanical engineer, and a registered 
civil engineer." Wassenar himself is a 
registered civil engineer and a member 
of APPA, the Association of Physical 
Plant Administrators. 

Wiliams College, founded in 1793, 
is an undergraduate college (there are 
also two master's programs) with an 
enrollment of about 2,000 men and 
women. The central campus encom- 
passes 450 acres with 98 buildings 
totaling approximately 1.8 million 
square feet. The college owns an addi- 
tional 2,500 acres including the 2,000- 
acre Hopkins Memorial Forest. 

Wassenar administers an annual 
operating budget of approximately $8 
million and says, "For the last two 
years, the total value of construction 
projects in progress has been averaging 
about $20 million. In the last 20 years, 

we've built a new science center, dor- 
mitories, track, football and baseball 
fields, a new infirmary, two additions 
to the Williams College Museum of 
Art, and a new library and field house." 

His office is involved from the initial 
conception of a project. Once that deci- 
sion is made, he notes, he gets involved 
with the interview and selection of the 
architect and then shepherds the whole 
design process through the various 
stages to the point of going out to bid. 
"We supervise the construction of the 
project to occupancy, and then we 
maintain and operate it forever more. 
It's a total facilities aspect, from incep- 
tion to design to construction, occu- 
pancy, and day-to-day operation. 

"I personally get more pleasure out 
of the planning and creative aspects of 
the job," he says. "The other aspect I 
think is really rewarding is dealing with 
the students, who can be both interest- 
ing and frustrating, the faculty, the 
administration and, in a small town like 
this, the community. The frustrations 
are like those in any job — like when the 
power goes out in the middle of the day 
and the computer shuts down ... It 
adds to the excitement." 

AUTUMN 1987 37 

By Paul Susca 

In Praise 

of What 


If engineering students 
can graduate without 
tackling science and 
mathematics courses, 
those subjects can't be 
too important to the 
field. Not so, say 
top educators. 

Physics Professor Robert Long says that the department recom- 
mends courses in modern physics to few students because "they 
aren't going to get much out of that that's applicable to what they're 
doing in later life." Classical physics is still the mainstay of physics 
education for undergraduates. 

Engineering does not stand on its . 
own; it stands on the shoulders 
of science. That point is often 
taken for granted, but every 
once in a while someone sug- 
gests that engineers don't use much sci- 
ence, and that therefore engineering stu- 
dents only need to be exposed to just 
enough science and mathematics to get 
by in their engineering courses. 

WPI's experience with the evolution of 
the Plan (WPI Journal, August 1986) has 
revealed the idea that science might be 
superfluous for the engineering student. 
In fact, William Grogan '46, dean of 
undergraduate studies and one of the 
chief architects of the Plan, recalls that 
when science requirements were re- 
moved in the Plan's early years, students . 
stopped taking those courses. 

"Word got around," Grogan says 
today, "that they could pass their engi- 
neering courses and their Competency 
Examinations without having taken the 
traditional math and science courses." 
That was true, he adds, "because the. 
engineering courses tend to be stand- • 
alone events; whatever science is needed i 
is presented in the course." 

The science and math requirements - 
were reinstituted in 1986 at the insistence . 
of the Accreditation Board for Engineer- 
ing and Technology (ABET). But if WPI I 
students managed to graduate and to 
function in their engineering careers s 
without math and science courses, aree 
they really needed? 

Grogan poses a different question: 
What's important, he says, is noti 
whether every engineer needs science to> 
function, but whether science should be*. 
in the background of an engineer? "I I 
would say very definitely yes, abso- 
lutely," he answers. The same holds trueo 
for humanities: "It's just plain good edu- 
cation. An educated person, whether ann 
engineer or a liberal arts graduate, 
should understand the nature of the uni- 
verse in which he or she lives, as- 
explained by scientific principles." 

A command of scientific principles 
offers more than an understanding of the I 
world in which we live; some argue thati 
an education that focuses on technology 
without relying heavily on the scientific!, 
basis of technology does not prepare stu- 
dents to be engineers at all, but to be' 
technologists. But while the prevalence 
and variety of technology in modern' 
society has created a niche for innovation! 
for the new class of technologists, the 
practice of engineering has come to rely 


even more heavily on basic science. 

In the field of mechanical engineering, 
for example, advances in physics and 
mathematics have led to the relatively 
recent development of nondestructive 
measurement techniques. One of those 
techniques, laser Doppler anemometry 
(LDA), which is used almost daily in 
Mechanical Engineering Professor Wil- 
liam Durgin's fluid mechanics labora- 
tory, is based on laser techniques devel- 
oped by physicists. LDA makes possible 
the measurement of air velocities any- 
where in a wind tunnel without putting 
an instrument inside the tunnel. The 
technique was first developed around 
1970, Durgin says, and is now used rou- 
tinely around the country. 

A look at the science curriculum 
shows how close the relationship is 
between cutting edge science and new 
technology— so close that the line be- 
tween science and technology becomes 
blurred. The physics department, for 
example, offers courses in multilayered 
semiconducting heterostructures and 
optoelectronics, two areas that are revo- 
lutionizing electronics. And just across 
the street, biology and biotechnology has 
courses in fermentation and downstream 
processing, relying on biology to expand 
the horizons of process engineering. 

The increasing interactions between 
fields, especially the life sciences and 
various engineering fields, make an even 
stronger case for a solid grounding in sci- 
ence, says Robert H. Goff '52, associate 
dean of engineering at the University of 
Rhode Island. Goff cites the importance 
of biology to environmental problems 
faced by civil engineers, physiology 
applied to robotics, and, of course, bio- 
technology. "I think we want more crea- 
tivity out of our engineers— less being 
the technician," says Goff. "And I think 
you're more apt to function in a creative 
fashion if you have a broader basic sci- 
ence background." 

But short of increasing the number of 
years required to earn a bachelor's 
degree in engineering, boosting the basic 
science content of engineering programs 
would involve some trade-off of engi- 
neering design skills. In a conflict 
between the science basics and engineer- 
ing practice, some criterion must be 
found that can be relied upon to measure 
the long-term value of the two competing 
aspects of engineering education. The 
test that educators often apply in this 
comparison is the question, What aspect 
of education endures longest? 

UP cience should be part of 

O every engineer's back- 
ground. It's just plain good edu- 
cation," says William R.Grogan'46, 
dean of undergraduate studies. 

"The important thing," says Goff, "is 
that the graduates realize that there is a 
lot they never learned in school, some of 
it because it was unknown at the time. 
Therefore, if they're going to stay on the 
cutting edge of what's happening, 
they've got to be learners for the rest of 
their professional careers." 

Surveying the continually shifting 
landscape of high technology- 
microelectronics, optoelectronics, com- 
puters, and the entire field of 
biotechnology— Donald E. Sands '51 
also sees an increasingly strong case for 
science. Sands, academic vice chancel- 
lor at the University of Kentucky in Lex- 
ington, says, "If there's one lesson in all 
of this, it's that we can't predict what the 
future will hold, and our students do 
need to be prepared to continue their 
learning. Whatever they learn now is 
going to be obsolete in a few years." 

Bill Durgin echoes the idea of the 
durability of a solid background in sci- 
ence. "I was educated under the philoso- 
phy that if one understands the basics 
well— and by the basics I mean the math 
and science underlying our field of 
engineering— then one can address any 
new fields that come along or any new 
applications that come along," he says. 
"And I've always found that to be true in 
my experience." 

There is a large school of educators 
who favor bolstering the science content 
of engineering education for that very 
reason, says David T. Hayhurst '72, 
chairman of the chemical engineering 
department at Cleveland State Univer- 
sity. He cites separation processes as an 
example. Distillation has long been 
taught as a separation process, but indus- 
try is moving increasingly into other sep- 
aration methods such as adsorption. 
"Some people feel we should be giving 
students a fundamental understanding of 
the basic mass transfer concepts, says 
Hayhurst. "Let industry, they would say, 
bring students up to speed with the state 
of the art." 

If the role of advanced techniques in 
engineering practice yields ground to an 
increased emphasis on underlying scien- 
tific concepts, then industry has to take 
up the slack. But according to Professor 
of Electrical Engineering James Demetry 
'58, that has long been the case. "Com- 
panies take in young, bright people with 
four years of engineering school, and 
they teach them what they have to know 
to be productive and creative people 
inside the company. I don't think they 

AUTUMN 1987 39 

Professor of Mathematics J.J. Malone says that because students 
don't think in terms of long-range goals, "they often look upon 
the math and science as a necessary evil." 

expect them to be productive from day 

Grogan also champions science and 
mathematics for the durability and flexi- 
bility they provide to graduates. "We 
tend to be very application-oriented," 
Grogan says, "sometimes at the expense 
of understanding. I think the price we 
pay for that is ultimately a lack of flexi- 
bility on the part of students. Once the 
technique they learned is superseded by a 
newer technique, too often students do 
not have a depth of understanding of the 
scientific principles that enable them to 
adapt to a new situation." 

That aspect of the relationship between 
science and engineering is nothing new, 
the former electrical engineering profes- 
sor points out. "The historical evolution 
of engineering is from science. So in a 
highly changing technology, a deeper 
understanding of science would seem to 
be a more durable element in education 
than the more volatile state-of-the-art 

The durability of science is borne out 
by how little freshman science courses 
have changed over the years. True, says 
Robert Long, professor of physics, the 
advances that have taken place in physics 
in the last 50 years have led to previously 
unimagined developments in nuclear and 
electronic technology and sophisticated 
instrumental methods used in chemical 
analysis. Still, he says, the department 
recommends its course in modern phys- 
ics to few engineering students. "They 
probably won't get much out of the 
course that will be directly applicable to 
their future careers," Long says. Because 
of its lasting relevance, classical physics 
is still the mainstay of the physics back- 
ground for undergraduate engineers. The 
same is true of mathematics, chemistry, 
and biology: Material that is presented to 
students in the first few courses has not 
changed radically over the years, except 
when it has been updated to reflect new 

There is, however, a movement afoot 
nationwide in the mathematics commu- 
nity to investigate to what extent courses 
in discrete math should be introduced 
into the first-year curriculum for scien- 
tists, engineers, and mathematicians. 
This, says J. Richard Lundgren '64, 
chairman of the mathematics department I 
at the University of Colorado at Denver, 
is because of the ubiquity of computers 
and the need for computer users to 
exploit the machines' use of finite math, 
as opposed to the traditional calculus that 


(CPinite math is absolutely 

L essential to solving prob- 
lems using supercomputers," 
says Colorado's J. Richard 
Lundgren '64. 

every technically inclined freshman 

A computer is a finite machine, Lund- 
gren explains, meaning that much of 
what it does can be shown on a graph 
with discrete points rather than the 
smooth lines characteristic of calculus. 
So computers handle information in a 
very different way than it is often 
described in calculus. Finite math is also 
useful in choosing how to structure data 
in a computer program, Lundgren says. 
And the importance of finite math to 
engineers will continue to grow, he adds. 
"This field of mathematics is absolutely 
essential to building models and solving 
problems using supercomputers and par- 
allel computers, which engineers will 
find themselves using more and more." 

In upper-level courses, Lundgren 
notes, a significant advance is the 
increased activity in computational 
math — the development of numerical 
methods and algorithms for use in solv- 
ing physical problems on the new gener- 
ation of supercomputers. 

This already accounts for a major part 
of Lundgren 's department at Colorado. 
And he is already seeing many under- 
graduate engineering students taking as 
electives, in addition to the required 
math (the calculus sequence, differential 
equations, and linear algebra), such 
courses as discrete (finite) math, mathe- 
matical modeling, and numerical analy- 
sis — all prompted by the needs of techni- 
cal computing. "In 10 years," he claims, 
"you'll see a revolution in the teaching 
of mathematics." 

As the importance of various types of 
mathematics shifts, what does that por- 
tend for the courses recommended for 
engineers? Professor of Mathematics 
Gordon Branche says the growing impor- 
tance of numerical data analysis necessi- 
tates an understanding of its mathemati- 
cal underpinnings. But he notes that the 
question of how to make room for the 
new material is a delicate issue. Eventu- 
ally, he says, some kind of accommoda- 
tion will have to be made between add- 
ing more material or courses and shifting 
the emphasis of the courses that are cur- 
rently required. But the process of assim- 
ilating discrete math into engineers' 
preparation is a slow one, Branche says, 
because it is not exactly clear how the 
math is going to be used. 

To make matters worse, students 
already in the dark about the applications 
of the math they are learning can often 
look forward to at least two more years 

University of Rhode Island 
Dean Robert H. Goff '52: 
"We want more creativity from 
our engineers — less being the 

AUTUMN 1987 41 

of study without using it. Branche says 
that sophomore and junior engineering 
courses sometimes fail to reinforce fresh- 
man calculus, so by the time senior year 
rolls around students have lost whatever 
calculus they once knew. "One of the 
things I would like to see as we incorpo- 
rate discrete math is that we somehow 
have to reinforce calculus concepts," 
Branche says, "because calculus is 

Although science courses have 
remained relatively stable over the years, 
the relationship between science and 
engineering, particularly the role of sci- 
ence in engineering education, has 
changed. Since its emergence as a disci- 
pline during the Industrial Revolution, 
engineering was taught essentially as a 
set of skills. William Grogan character- 
izes the state of engineering before 
World War II as "rather stodgy, very 
pragmatic." But the military importance 
of radar and electronics in general, Gro- 
gan says, "kicked up the scientific com- 
ponent of engineering significantly. 
Then it plateaued and Sputnik kicked it 
up again." 

Mason H. Somerville '64, dean of the 
College of Engineering at Texas Tech 
University, sees Sputnik as the catalyst 
that precipitated a major shift away from 
the "technology-based curriculum" he 
graduated under, comprising design 
courses, hands-on lab courses, drafting, 
machine shop, and foundry in addition to 
theory courses. As the U.S. space pro- 
gram was stepped up, he believes, it 
became much easier to get funding 
related to the space race, and the empha- 
sis of engineering research and teaching 
shifted toward high technology — 
meaning engineering science— which in 
turn required engineers to have more 
math and science background. As a re- 
sult, Somerville says, students became 
much more proficient at math, science, 
and engineering science at the expense of 
the traditional engineering skills. 

As the practice of engineering has 
become more scientific, engineering 
departments, in response to the accredit- 
ing boards, have prescribed more math 
and science to prepare their graduates for 
the demands of their careers. But stu- 
dents don't always swallow their teach- 
ers' prescriptions without question. 
According to Professor of Mathematics 
J.J. Malone, chief architect and teacher 
of linear algebra courses at WPI, "Stu- 
dents have fairly immediate goals. 
Sometimes it's hard for them to be toler- 

At Cleveland State, David T. 
Hayhurst '72 has brought in 
engineers with industrial experi- 
ence to teach math to chemical 
engineering students. 

ant of the goals that fit into the long- 
range goals. So they often look upon the 
math and science as a necessary evil, and 
they even question the 'necessary' part 
of that." 

Malone has seen the annual enrollment 
in linear algebra courses, which typically 
come after calculus and differential 
equations— usually some time in the 
sophomore year— grow from less than 80 
to over 400 in his time at WPI. "That's 
not because students have the foresight 
to anticipate the need for linear algebra," 
he claims, but because many of the engi- 
neering departments, particularly electri- ' 
cal engineering, specifically recommend 
the courses." But because students some- 
times question the need for more math, 
Malone feels it is the joint responsibility 
of the mathematics and engineering 
departments to show students that it is 
indeed necessary. 

In 1984 Malone advised a student 
doing an Interactive Qualifying Project 
(IQP) that successfully sought to identify 
applications of linear algebra in under- 
graduate engineering courses at WPL 
Now, Malone says, "You can say to stu- 
dents, 'In your first chemical engineering : 
course, here is how you used linear alge- 
bra. And in your early electrical engi- • 
neering you used systems of equations to i 
figure out circuits. And in civil engineer- 
ing you're using eigenvalues to study 
questions of structural stability.' " 

David Hayhurst says his department I 
has found a different way to address the • 
question of the relevance of mathematics I 
material to engineering students. At i 
Cleveland State, engineers with industry 
experience are brought in to teach 
math— in particular numerical methods 
using computers— as part of the core cur- 
riculum in engineering sciences. That's 
after students have already taken the 
usual courses in calculus, linear algebra, 
and differential equations. 

A mathematics professor, Hayhurst 
says, does not have the experience to 
teach the numerical methods course at the 
same level that a seasoned engineer can. 
At a large university, this approach to 
teaching numerical methods, which con- 
centrates on subjects rather than depart- 
ments, can result in some turf battles 
Hayhurst says that "Every time the math-i 
ematics department asks us what we're 
teaching, we tell them it's engineering, 
but the engineers swear it's mathematics 
Most likely, this is a phenomenon that isi 
not unique to Cleveland State, but isi 
shared by many institutions." 



A s new directions in math 
A emerge, says Dr. Gordon C. 

lii ' ■ 



Branche, associate professor of 



mathematics, "we'll have to 


decide how best to make room 

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What will be the next episode 
in the saga of engineering 
and science is anybody's 
guess. But some educators 
are willing to do some 
crystal ball gazing. Citing the eroded 
competitive position of the United States 
in manufacturing and the Soviets 'leading 
position in space with an almost contin- 
ually manned space station in orbit for 
several years, Bill Durgin thinks the time 
may be ripe for another upheaval like the 
one that followed Sputnik. 

Mason Somerville says Star Wars may 
turn out to be the next landmark event, 
although it is hard to say what its impact 
will be. In any case, Somerville sees a 
division of labor between engineers and 

technologists. Because major advances 
in technology depend on exploiting basic 
phenomena— molecular and even 
subatomic — engineers with substantial 
math and science backgrounds will work 
on the cutting edge. 

Technologists, those with associate 
degrees in engineering or B.S. degrees in 
technology, will become the stewards of 
existing technology, operating and main- 
taining the economic and industrial infra- 
structure and implementing its slow evo- 
lution. Somerville also suggests that the 
rise of educational programs for technol- 
ogists was sparked by Sputnik in the first 

As far as the next chapter of engineer- 
ing education is concerned, Donald 

Sands hopes to see it borrow a page from 
science, tempering engineers' tendency 
toward certitude with shades of gray. 
One of the things that science teaches, 
Sands says, is a sense of its own limita- 
tions. Sometimes this readiness to admit 
what isn't known even shows up as basic 
principles of science, such as the Heisen- 
berg Uncertainty Principle, the second 
law of thermodynamics, and Goedel's 
Proof in mathematics. 

"I'd like to see engineers impressed 
more with shades of gray," he says. 
"Engineering tends to be deterministic: 
If you connect this to this, the current 
will ran from here to there and there's no 
doubt about it. Well, the real world is 
made up of lots of shades of gray." 

AUTUMN 1987 43 


Industrial involvement is both one of 
the oldest and one of the newest 
emphases for WPI. It is the oldest in 
the sense that it was the raison d 'etre for 
the industrial and community support 
that brought WPI into being as the 
Worcester County Free Institute of 
Industrial Science in 1865. And today, 
the rebirth of interest in industrial manu- 
facturing is the key to the nation's inter- 
national competitive strength. Coopera- 
tive ventures uniting universities and 
businesses are expanding nationwide in 
such high technology areas as aerospace, 
artificial intelligence, biomedicine and 
biotechnology, materials, microelec- 
tronics, nondestructive testing, and 

Ichabod Washburn, one of the found- 
ers of WPI, built the Washburn Shops to 
house a for-profit manufacturing busi- 
ness in which WPI students could 
apprentice to learn firsthand the manu- 
facturing skills and techniques of the 
day. In the 1890s, the increasing profit- 
ability (and competition) of the Shops 
had become such a cause celebre with 
local industry and tax officials that the 
trustees of the college voted to de- 
emphasize for-profit manufacturing. As 
a result, Milton P. Higgins, the first 
superintendent of the Shops, resigned, 
along with his friend Prof. George 
Alden. The two went on to build Norton 
Company, which they had founded, into 
an international force in industrial abra- 
sives manufacturing. 

At that same time, Milton Higgins 
bought the rights to the hydraulic eleva- 
tor that he had invented and manufac- 
tured in the Washburn Shops. Subse- 
quently, he sold the rights to Otis 
Elevator, setting the stage for the com- 
pany's rise to prominence. Higgins also 
founded the Worcester Pressed Steel 
Company, and a son-in-law, R. Sanford 
Riley, founded Riley Stoker Company. 
At about that time, H. Winfield Wyman 
'82 and Lyman F. Gordon '81 co- 
founded Wyman and Gordon Drop Forge 
Company; Charles Morgan, a founding 

WPI, Inc. 

By Dr. Jon C. Strauss 

trustee, established Morgan Construction 
Company; and alumnus James N. Heald 
founded Heald Machine Company. 
Obviously, WPI had enormous influence 
on the growth of Worcester as an indus- 
trial power in the late 1800s and early 

At WPI, this involvement with the real 
work of the world continues today. Its 
scope now extends considerably beyond 
the borders of Worcester County, and it 
manifests itself in many ways: 

• Our trustees constitute a virtual Who 's 
Who of American business and industry. 
They range from Fortune 500 presidents, 
such as Robert C. Stempel '55 (General 
Motors Corp.) and Paul A. Allaire '60 
(Xerox Corp.), through investors and 
entrepreneurs, such as Howard G. Free- 
man '40 (Jamesbury Corp.) and S. Mer- 
rill Skeist '40 (Spellman High Voltage 
Electronics Corp.); to entrepreneurial 
leaders of small businesses, such as Ray- 
mond J. Perreault '38 (Falls Machine 
Screw Company), Robert H. Beckett '57 
(Robec Distributors), and Irving James 
Donahue, Jr., '44 (Donahue Industries). 
In other dimensions, we find a financial 
leader in F. William Marshall, Jr., presi- 
dent and CEO of Shawmut Worcester 
County Bank; a utility executive in 
Samuel Huntington, president and CEO 
of New England Electric System; an 
attorney in C. Marshall Dann '35, 
former U.S. Commissioner of Patents 
and Trademarks; and educators, such as 
Prof. John J. Gabarro '61, of Harvard 
University Graduate School of Business; 
and Prof. Carol L. Reinisch, of Tufts 
University School of Veterinary Medi- 
cine. These and other board members are 
positioned well to help attain for WPI the 
recognition it deserves now and will con- 
tinue to earn in the future. 

• Our alumni, too, are well represented 
at all levels in the world of business and 
industry. In addition to those listed as 
trustees, several worthy of special men- 
tion for what they bring to WPI include 

Paul W. Bayliss '60, vice president for 
market planning and management of 
AT&T's Network Systems, and past 
president of the Alumni Association; 
Richard J. Kennedy '65, vice president 
of the Abrasives Marketing Group at 
Norton Company and president of the 
Alumni Association; George T. Abdow 
'53, founder and president of Abdow's 
Big Boy Family Restaurants; Michael A. 
DiPierro '68, president of Poly form Cor- 
poration; and Gordon H. Sigman, Jr., 
'59, vice president of strategic defense 
programs for United Technologies Corp. 
These and other alumni bring enormous 
talent to the service of WPI through the 
Alumni Association, departmental advis- 
ing committees, and outreach activities 
of all kinds. 

• It is among our faculty, however, that 
we see the real involvement in the devel- 
opment and application of new technol- 
ogy for the benefit of American industry. 
It takes many forms: 

• Prof. Ronald R. Biederman of 
Mechanical Engineering has for 
many years led an interdisciplinary 
program in materials science, 
working directly with companies 
like Wyman Gordon, Morgan 
Construction, Norton Company, 
C. R. Bard, General Dynamics 
Electric Boat, and AMP on appli- 
cations ranging from ceramics to 
forging, powder metallurgy, and 
steel rolling, as well as biomate- 
rials for artificial joints and angio- 
plasty. Working closely with Dr. 
Biederman are Profs. Sara A. Dil- 
lich, Gary L. Leatherman, Rys- 
zard Pryputniewicz, Richard D. 
Sisson, Jr., and Floyd R. Tuler. 

• Profs. Alex E. Emanuel, Dave 
Cyganski '75, and John A. Orr of 
Electrical Engineering are doing 
exciting work under the sponsor- 
ship of the Electric Power 
Research Institute, investigating 


the effects of harmonics produced 
by photovoltaic generation. In 
addition, Drs. Cyganski and Orr 
are also supported by Teledyne 
Corp. for work in vision systems 
for integrated circuit manufactur- 

• The Manufacturing Engineering 
Applications Center (MEAC), 
directed by Prof. Donald N. 
Zwiep, head of Mechanical Engi- 
neering, is both a laboratory for 
developing automated manufactur- 
ing processes and a program 
where industrial sponsors support 
generic research and proprietary 
projects for their own manufactur- 
ing processes. Digital Equipment 
Corp. (DEC), Emhart Corp., 
General Electric (GE), and Norton 
Co. have received significant ben- 
efits from their annual sponsorship 
of MEAC. 

• The Management of Advanced 
Automation Technology (MAAT) 
program, directed by management 
Prof. Arthur Gerstenfeld, also 
works closely with industrial spon- 
sors, including Barry Wright 
Corp., Combustion Engineering 
Corp., DEC, GTE, GE, Lockheed 
Corp., Polaroid Corp., and Wy- 
man Gordon. 

• Prof. Yi Hua Ma of Chemical 
Engineering has just organized a 
new center in inorganic membrane 
technology with support from 
Alcoa Co. He is joined in this 
effort by Profs. William M. Clark, 
Anthony Dixon, and William R. 
Moser, as well as Profs. Bieder- 
man and Sisson. 

• One of our newest industrial 
joint ventures is the Center for 
Computer-Aided Engineering 
(CAE) for Manufacturing. This 
center derives from Provost 
Richard H. Gallagher's interest 
and expertise in computational 

The work of Dr. Ronald R. Biederman 
represents WPI's historic alliance with 

mechanics in combination with a 
number of faculty members, 
including Profs. George Y. 
Jumper, Jr., James Kane, and 
Sunil Saigal from Mechanical 
Engineering; Paul W. Davis and 
Janos Turi from Mathematical Sci- 
ences; and Thomas A. Shannon 
from Humanities. 

This summer, the center submit- 
ted a proposal to NSF for $12 mil- 
lion in support. Industrial sponsors 
include Avco Lycoming Corp; 
General Dynamics; Hewlett- 
Packard Co; Hibbitt Corp; Karls- 
son and Sorenson, Inc.; Micro 
Control Systems, Inc.; Norton 
Co.; Raytheon; United Technolo- 
gies; and Wyman Gordon. 

Of the $3.5 million in sponsored 
research performed by the faculty in 
1986-87, more than 50 percent came 
from industrial sponsors. 

• The Institute has several other forms 

of industrial support: 

• WPI has an active Cooperative 
Education Program, which places 
more than 15 percent of our 
juniors and seniors in industrial 
assignments with companies such 
as DEC, IBM, Raytheon, and 

United Technologies. Under the 
leadership of its new director, 
Carolyn Tidwell, we anticipate 
that this program will grow signifi- 
cantly in both the number and the 
quality of assignments. 

• Organizations such as ADI, 
DEC, Raytheon, and Wyman Gor- 
don have found the support of fel- 
lowships at WPI to be a good 

• In recent years, AT&T, Conver- 
gent Technology, Inc., Datability 
Corp., DEC, Hewlett-Packard, 
IBM, Raytheon, Wright Line, 
Inc., and others have made gener- 
ous gifts of equipment. 

• Most New England firms have 
contributed generously to the 
recent renovations of Atwater 
Kent and the Washburn Shops and 
will be given the opportunity to 
invest further in WPI's continued 
new building and renovation pro- 
gram as part of the Campaign for 

We are not, however, seeking outright 
philanthropy in our industrial relation- 
ships. Rather, Dr. Ron Baird, director of 
corporate relations, is trying to establish 
sustained joint ventures in which the 
research interests of faculty members 
align with, and hopefully are sponsored 
by, industrial partners. We have had sig- 
nificant success with this approach over 
the first 122 years of WPI's existence, 
and we are looking to achieve even 
greater success in the future. 

By now, you may well be aware of 
WPI's Campaign for Excellence, a five- 
year drive to raise $52.5 million to bring 
new levels of excellence to WPI. While 
industrial support of faculty research will 
not be counted in that total, the continu- 
ing direct involvement with business and 
industry that has been so much a hall- 
mark of WPI remains a high priority for 
the future. 

The chimneys of Higgins House in November. 


WINTER 1988 





W/ ■*«'■, it, 



Boynton Hall wears its winter finery. 
Photo by Robert S. Arnold. Black-and< 
white, 8-by-10-inch prints of this 
photo are available; send $10 to WPI 
Journal, 100 Institute Road, Worces- 
ter, MA 01609. 


WINTER 1988 

No. 3 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Publisher, 
Kenneth L. McDonnell • Editor, Michael W. 
Dorsey • Alumni Information Editor, Ruth S. 

Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel 
Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary '71 

• Judith Donahue, SIM '82 • William J. 
Firla, Jr. '60 • Maureen Sexton Horgan '83 

• Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is pub- 
lished quarterly for the WPI Alumni Associ- 
ation by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Magazine Con- 
sortium, with editorial offices at the Johns 
Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages I-XVI are published for the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium [Franklin and Mar- 
shall College, Johns Hopkins University, Vil- 
lanova University, Western Maryland 
College, Western Reserve College (Case 
Western Reserve University), Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute] and appear in the re- 
spective alumni magazines of those institu- 
tions. Second class postage paid at Worcester, 
MA, and additional mailing offices. Pages 
1-16, 33-48 ® 1988, Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute. Pages I-XVI ® 1988, Johns Hop- 
kins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine Consor- 
tium: Editor, Donna Shoemaker • Wrap De- 
signer and Production Coordinator, Amy 
Doudiken Wells • Assistant Editor, Julia 
Ridgely • Consulting Editors, Alan Sea and 
Elise Hancock • Core Designers, Allen Car- 
roll and Amy Doudiken Wells. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Franklin and Marshall Col- 
lege, Linda Whipple and Patti Lawson • 
Johns Hopkins University, B.J. Norris and 
Alan Sea • Villanova University, Eugene J. 
Ruane and D.M. Howe • Western Maryland 
College, Joyce Muller and Sherri Kimmel 
Diegel • Western Reserve College, David C. 
Twining • Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 
Michael Dorsey and Kenneth L. McDonnell. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, BG Com- 
position, Inc.; Printing, American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of public interest 
are presented in the magazine. These views 
do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the 
editors or official policies of WPI. Address 
correspondence to the Editor, The WPI Jour- 
nal, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worces- 
ter, MA 01609. Telephone (617) 793-6516. 
Postmaster: If undeliverable please send form 
3579 to the address above. Do not return 


9 The State Of the Arts Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

Music and drama help draw undergraduates to WPI. 

/ Photo Finish 

Announcing a contest for our readers. 

Learning a Language 

// Words Apart 

The payoff and the price. 

Robert Kanigel 

Page 9 

VII From Foreign to Fluent: What 

Robert Kanigel 

Motivation helps— so do practice and patience. 

Julia Ridgely 

They strive to make foreign authors accessible. 

Michael W. Dorsey 

XV Translators, Traitors, 



33 Bit by Byte by Brick by Wire: 
Putting it Together 

Computerizing the campus. 

Page II 


41 Making Company, Making 

Jerome A. Parchois 
The Worcester Consortium for Higher Education. 


2 Advance Word: The Journal gets a new editor and format. 

3 Communique: Fostering innovation at WPI. Jon C. Strauss 

4 Investigations: The diffusion of polymers, the genetics of fish 
food, the mechanics of a cat's knee. 

6 Innovations: Promoting good teaching. 

7 Inside WPI: Helping freshmen succeed. 

8 Explorations: Oil conversions, learning about fire, the link 
between art and science. 

47 Memory Bank: The wonderful life of Winthrop Brown. 
Roger N. Perry Jr. '85 

48 Final Word: Back in the U.S.S.R. with Pat Dunn. 
Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

Cover: Susan Vick and some of her "New Voices." 
Story on page 9. Photo by Janet Woodcock. 



For Journal Readers, 
1988 Brings New Direction, New Editor 

Change is a fact of life for maga- 
zines. During its 90 years, the WPI 
Journal has undergone many 
changes, all of which have helped it bet- 
ter fulfill its mission: informing and en- 
lightening the college's alumni and 

Nearly six years ago, WPI introduced 
to readers of the Journal a new look and 
a new editor, Kenneth McDonnell. We 
also inaugurated what was, for us, a new 
concept in magazine publishing, the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium. All three 
of those additions— format, editor, and 
Consortium— have served WPI well. 

Last year, the Journal evolved still 
further, as the removal of the Class Notes 
section (now found in an expanded form 
in TheWire) freed up space for more fea- 
ture stories and more and larger photo- 
graphs and illustrations. 

With this, the first issue of 1988, we 
launch yet another phase in the continual 
advancement of this magazine. Ken 
McDonnell is moving up to assume the 
new post of publisher of the Journal. 
Taking Ken's place as Journal editor is 
Michael Dorsey, director of the WPI 
News Service. Ken continues to serve as 
editor of TheWire and as director of 
WPI's extensive publications efforts. 
Ken has served our readers most effec- 
tively on the editorial firing line. In his 
new role, he will be able to exercise 
more editorial leadership over the Jour- 
nal and our growing array of publica- 
tions, which are produced for a variety 
of constituencies. 

In this issue, you will also find the 
first installments of an assortment of 
regular departments. These departments 
will keep you up to date on the scholar- 
ship and educational achievements of our 
faculty, show you some of the outstand- 
ing projects completed by our under- 
graduate students, and give you a 
behind-the-scenes look at the evolving 
face of WPI. 

By Donald F. Berth '57 

<The .iiiumuil 

CQotocstei pciftcchmc Institute. 



The WPI Journal debuted in Novem- 
ber 1897. Since then, it has undergone 
many changes. In April 1982 the Jour- 
nal acquired a new look and editor, 
and became part of a publishing con- 
sortium. With this issue, the maga- 
zine 's evolution continues. 

And you will find regular commentary 
on current issues from members of the 
WPI campus community and from our 
extended community beyond the cam- 
pus. Finally, you can look forward to 
short profiles of interesting people asso- 
ciated with WPI. One thing we are not 
changing as we enter the new year is our 
ongoing relationship with the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium, a group of east- 
ern colleges that band together to pro- 
duce their alumni magazines. Currently 
there are six colleges in the Consortium. 
Along with WPI, they are Franklin and 
Marshall College, Villanova University, 
Western Maryland College, Western Re- 
serve College (of Case Western Reserve 
University), and Johns Hopkins Univer- 
sity, which created and manages the 

While WPI realizes some cost savings 
by having the Journal produced by the 
combined resources of the Consortium, 
this is not the greatest benefit of our 
participation. In the middle of this and 
every Journal produced over the last six 
years you will find a 16-page section 
known as the "core." 

This section, produced under the 
guidance of the editors of all the Con- 
sortium magazines, is printed in each of 
those six publications. In other words, 
through the core, the words and ideas of 
WPI's faculty, students, alumni, and ad- 
ministration regularly reach about 
250,000 readers. We work hard to en- 
sure that the core carries a strong WPI 
presence in its content. 

Another thing that will not change is 
WPI's commitment to bringing you an 
excellent magazine, one that reflects the 
high quality of the institution on which 
it reports. Any comments and sugges- 
tions aimed at helping us achieve this 
objective will be most welcome. 

Donald Berth is vice president for uni- 
versity relations. 

WINTER 1988 


Encouraging Innovation at WPI 

WPI, by virtue of the 
WPI Plan, is known 
as one of the most 
innovative colleges of engi- 
neering, science, and man- 
agement. One of the best 
things about the Plan is that it 
is innovative for the right rea- 
son: It produces superior 
graduates. An unfortunate 
side effect, however, is that it 
takes so much energy to sus- 
tain the Plan that our faculty 
have not been as innovative as 
they should be in other 
aspects of education. 

William R. Grogan, dean of 
undergraduate studies; 

Richard H. Gallagher, pro- 
vost; and I view developing a climate 
conducive to innovation as one of the 
greatest challenges facing WPI today. 
Fortunately, we are joined in the obser- 
vation by a significant proportion of our 

Innovation is particularly important to 
WPI because it provides the foundation 
for effective engineering design and 
entrepreneurship. Because innovative- 
ness can probably not be taught, but can 
be emulated, our graduates are more 
likely to be innovative in their profes- 
sional practice if they emulate the inno- 
vation they experienced in the class- 
room. And if the faculty is striving to be 
innovative, its members will almost cer- 
tainly be more effective teachers because 
their enthusiasm will be contagious. 

Although colleges are considered by 
many to be the change agents of our soci- 
ety, they are normally, by nature and tra- 
dition, very conservative. Richard M. 
Cyert, president of Carnegie-Mellon 
University, notes several factors that hin- 
der innovation in higher education: 
• Each faculty member is an entrepre- 
neur who is "in business" to deliver ser- 
vices in the classroom and develop a rep- 
utation through research in a particular 

— — rr— — 


By Dr. Jon C. Strauss 

discipline. Disciplines are conservators 
of a main line of thought, and faculty 
members may be unwilling to risk criti- 
cism from their disciplinary colleagues 
by being innovative. 

• Department heads are evaluated by 
their faculties on the basis of their suc- 
cess at developing resources. Conse- 
quently, they may resist unconventional, 
and hence innovative, activities that 
might jeopardize resource allocation. 

Thus, the decentralized structure and 
the inherent conservatism of colleges and 
the professoriate can discourage innova- 

Given these facts, how can Dick Gal- 
lagher, Bill Grogan, and I encourage 

A simple answer is to proclaim inno- 
vation as a goal so often that it becomes 
accepted as a way of institutional life. 
Beyond mere proclamation, however, we 
have one major resource at our disposal: 
the institutional reward system. 

We encourage department heads to 
reward innovation and, if necessary, we 
intervene directly to provide rewards 

through our annual salary 
reviews. And we make certain 
that innovation is weighed 
heavily in all tenure and pro- 
motion cases. 

Moreover, we attempt con- 
tinually to focus the attention 
of the faculty and staff on 
innovation, first by emphasiz- 
ing its importance in mes- 
sages such as this one, and 
then by demonstrating our 
personal receptivity to inno- 
vation, ensuring prompt dis- 
cussion and timely implemen- 
tation of new ideas and 
attempting to be innovative 
In addition, we have intro- 
duced two changes to encourage innova- 
tion. These include: 

• The Research and Educational Devel- 
opment Councils, which provide seed 
funding for innovative ideas. 

• Our five-year planning process, which 
stresses innovative planning and behav- 
ior. Innovation is best considered part of 
strategic (long-term) planning, rather 
than tactical (short-term) annual budget- 

Two major tasks remain. We must 
bring to WPI recognition for the innova- 
tion, excitement, and quality of our fac- 
ulty and programs. And we must develop 
the additional resources necessary to free 
up faculty time for developing innova- 
tive scholarship. 

Our ongoing $52.5-million Campaign 
for Excellence, which last fall passed the 
halfway mark, is focused on the latter 
task. The new resources we raise will be 
employed to enhance our extraordinary 
undergraduate program, to develop fur- 
ther the scholarship of our faculty, and to 
improve the quality of our facilities. Suc- 
cess in these endeavors will assure the 
recognition we seek and deserve. 

Jon Strauss is president of WPI. 



Of snakes, fishnets, and polymers 

Imagine a trash barrel filled to the brim 
with snakes. Unable to move freely, the 
snakes slither through the gaps that open 
up in the wriggling mass. 

Now, imagine a fishnet strung across a 
pool teeming with fish. While smaller 
fish pass through the net, the mesh 
impedes the movement of large fish. 

These two analogies form a simplified 
version of what has been, for more than a 
decade, the accepted model of how large 
polymer chains move through solutions. 
Now, George D.J. Phillies, associate 
professor of physics, has developed a 
new theory that challenges this so-called 
"reptation" model. The theory could 
benefit industry by helping to predict 
more accurately how long chemical reac- 
tions involving polymers in solution will 

Phillies' model is based on five years 
of work with quasi-elastic light-scat- 
tering spectroscopy, or QELSS, a tech- 
nique in which he illuminates a solution 
with laser light and measures the Dop- 
pler shifts caused by the motion of sus- 
pended particles. These shifts reveal the 
velocity of the suspended bodies. 

Phillies uses QELSS to monitor the 
movement of reflective spheres called 
optical probes as they travel through 
solutions of various synthetic and biolog- 
ical polymers. By changing the sizes of 
the spheres and the concentrations of the 
solutions, Phillies assembled a new pic- 
ture of polymer movement. 

While the reptation theory says poly- 
mer solutions should slow large optical 
probes more than small probes (remem- 
ber the fish and the fishnet analogy), 
Phillies found that the solutions are 
equally effective at slowing large and 
small spheres. 

And, while the reptation model says 
the length of the polymer chains should 
not affect the rate of diffusion of a probe, 
just as the length of the ropes making up 
a fishnet would not affect the size of the 
fish it can catch, probes actually diffuse 

more slowly through long chains than 
through short chains. 

In Phillies' model, polymer chains coil 
into roughly spherical shapes. Rather 
than slithering in and about other chains, 
the coils move like microscopic subma- 
rines that create wakes. The wakes affect 
the motion of nearby chains that, in turn, 
create echoes of the original wakes. 
These complicated hydrodynamic inter- 
actions are the forces that control rates of 
diffusion and viscosity in polymer solu- 
tions, Phillies says. 

In addition to providing a model that is 
consistent with experimental evidence, 
both his own and that of other research- 
ers, Phillies' theory can account for the 
behavior of the entire range of polymer 
solutions from very diluted to highly 
concentrated. Reptation, on the other 
hand, works well only for the middle 

Phillies' models may stir things up in 
the biochemical industry. Many modern 
chemical products are made using cata- 
lysts known as enzymes. Relying on the 
reptation model, chemical engineers 
have avoided using enzymes in concen- 
trated polymer solutions, since the dense 
mixture was believed to slow enzymes 
and limit their effect. Phillies' theory, 
however, says enzymes should move as 
rapidly in concentrated as diluted solu- 
tions. Using more concentrated solutions 
may enable engineers to increase the 
yield of their reactions. 

The unexpected genetics 
of fish food 

In science, the detours one takes on the 
road to an answer can often provide the 
greatest rewards. Such has been the case 
for Dr. Joseph C. Bagshaw, professor 
and head of the Department of Biology 
and Biotechnology. 

A few years ago, Bagshaw began 
searching for clues about how genes are 
"turned on and off." Along the way, he 
and his students have discovered a previ- 

This graph shows the diffusion coeffi- 
cients of polystyrene chains of different 
molecular weights compared to a new 
model of polymer diffusion developed 
by WPI physics professor George Phil- 
lies. The smooth curves show how well 
the Phillies model accounts for the 
entire range of polymer solutions, from 
very dilute to highly concentrated. The 
data were collected by P. T. Callaghan 
and D.N. Finder at Massey University 
in New Zealand. 

ously unknown genetic mechanism. 

Since every cell in an organism, from 
a bone cell to a brain cell, has exactly the 
same genetic blueprint in its nucleus, 
cells must have a mechanism for activat- 
ing or expressing only the genes that pro- 
duce the proteins they need, while deac- 
tivating the rest, Bagshaw says. 

Through a three-year grant from the 
National Science Foundation, Bagshaw 
is studying the brine shrimp, a small 
crustacean sold in pet stores as fish food. 
The shrimp are obtained as embryos and, 
when placed in brine, quickly develop 

WINTER 1988 

into larvae. 

Since the cells in the larvae are quite 
different from those in the embryo, the 
brine shrimp may provide clues as to 
how the cells of an organism, all of 
which have exactly the same genetic 
blueprint, can activate only the genes 
that produce the proteins they need, 
while deactivating the rest. 

As a first step, Bagshaw studied the 
brine shrimp's messenger RNA. Each 
messenger RNA, or mRNA, is a template 
cast from an individual gene; on these 
templates, proteins are put together. 

By comparing the mRNAs of the brine 
shrimp embryo with those of the more 
complex larvae, Bagshaw hoped to find 
clues as to how the developing crusta- 
cean turns on "larval genes" and shuts 
off "embryo genes." 

When the mRNAs were analyzed by 
Bagshaw 's research team, including two 
seniors working on their Major Qualify- 
ing Projects, the results were unex- 
pected, even startling. 

"It turns out the brine shrimp's mRNA 
is not routine in its structure," Bagshaw 
says. "In fact, it's not like anything any- 
body has ever seen before." 

The data showed that only 20 percent 
of the genetic sequences transcribed into 
mRNA in the brine shrimp were 
"unique" genes. The rest contained tran- 
scripts of repeated sequences, long 
stretches of DNA made up of many 
copies of the same genetic information. 

Unlike genes, these sequences do not 
appear to be transcribed into proteins. 
Instead, experts believe they regulate the 
transcription process. In fact, in no other 
organisms ever studied have so many 
repeated sequences been transcribed into 
mRNA, Bagshaw said. 

Bagshaw can't yet explain the signifi- 
cance of this finding. It appears, he says, 
that the brine shrimp employs a different 
mechanism of genetic expression than 
other organisms studied to date. Since no 
other laboratory has examined the genet- 
ics of crustaceans in as much detail as 
Bagshaw's group, only time will tell if 
this mechanism is common to all mem- 
bers of the phylum. 

It may be, Bagshaw says, that the 
method is an ancient one which has sur- 
vived intact from an early point in the 
evolution of animals. While other organ- 
isms developed more advanced forms of 
genetic expression, the crustaceans never 
changed. It may also be a method that 
developed only in the crustaceans and is 
therefore unique to that group. 

The mechanics of a cat's knee 

"A match made in heaven." 

That's how Dr. Allen H. Hoffman, 
professor of mechanical engineering at 
WPI, describes his collaboration with 
Peter Grigg, professor of physiology and 
a National Institutes of Health Jacob 
Javits Neuroscience Investigator at the 
University of Massachusetts Medical 
Center. Over the last 10 years, the two 
have combined their perspectives as 
engineer and neuroscientist to develop a 
unique solution to a long-standing prob- 
lem. For many years, physiologists who 
attempted to study the mechanics of soft 
tissues, such as ligaments and tendons, 
were faced with a catch-22. The devices 
one can use to measure loads applied to 
intact soft tissue in a living animal are 
more rigid than the tissue itself, and 
therefore unacceptable. If the tissue is 
removed and tested in the laboratory, the 
results are of questionable value, since it 
cannot be known if they accurately 
reflect the way the tissue behaves in its 
natural state. 

Hoffman and Grigg 's work on this 
problem began as an attempt to learn 
more about the sensory neurons in a 
sheath of soft tissue, known as the cap- 
sule, that surrounds the knee joint in cats 
and many other mammals, including 
humans. Their aim was to quantify the 
types of loads that cause these neurons to 
fire. However, no methodology existed 

This is the apparatus used by Allen 
Hoffman, WPI professor of mechanical 
engineering, and Peter Grigg, profes- 
sor of physiology at the University of 
Massachusetts Medical Center, to apply 
loads to a cable-like ligament in the 
capsule of the cat's knee. The research- 
ers solved a long-standing problem of 
measuring loads in intact soft tissue. 

for making this type of study. 

Their first breakthrough was the dis- 
covery that the knee joint capsule of 
small animals is suspended from a liga- 
ment that behaves like a catenary, an 
engineering term for a suspension cable 
that sags under its own weight. 

This finding allowed Hoffman to cre- 
ate a model that predicts how the shape 
of the ligament will change as different 
loads are placed upon it. This model was 
confirmed experimentally by using an 
apparatus developed by Grigg to place 
precise point loads on the capsule liga- 

The model enabled Hoffman, Grigg, 
and a team of WPI graduate students to 
look at the shape of the ligament in an 
intact knee and know precisely the load it 
was under. From these results, they 
could also deduce the load experienced 
by the entire capsule, Hoffman says. The 
next task fell to Grigg. Using painstaking 
microsurgical techniques, Grigg isolated 
individual neurons from among the hun- 
dreds of nerve cells found in the top of 
the knee capsule. The goal was to find 
only those neurons that were located in 
the cable-shaped ligament. Once such a 
neuron was pinpointed, its rate of firing 
could be calibrated to the load being 
experienced by the capsule. 

Using these calibrated neurons as bio- 
logical load cells, Hoffman and Grigg 
moved the knee joint of test animals 
through the full range of extension and 
measured the output of the neurons. 
They discovered that the load on the cap- 
sule was much smaller than expected. In 
fact, contrary to generally accepted 
thought, the capsule seems to absorb 
almost none of the loads placed on the 
knee when it is extended. 

"Some of the previous predictions of 
the stresses on the capsule were based on 
dissection studies and mathematical 
models of the knee," Grigg says. "One 
of the things we showed is that models 
and cadaver studies can be wrong." 

In work now under way, Grigg and 
Hoffman are looking at the stresses expe- 
rienced by the capsule when the lower 
leg is rotated about its long axis. So far, 
it appears that the capsule may absorb 
some of the stresses placed on the knee 
in this type of motion. 

They also plan to look at the response 
of neurons while the cable-shaped liga- 
ment is loaded dynamically, work they 
will do in collaboration with a researcher 
at the University of Utah. 

—Michael Dorsey 



"A teacher affects eternity; he can never 
tell where his influence stops" 

— Henry Brooks Adams 

"We are bootstrapping ourselves into the 
modern age," says James S. Demetry 
'58, professor and associate head of the 
Electrical Engineering Department, de- 
scribing the mission of WPI's new Edu- 
cational Development Council (EDC). 

Demetry, chairman of the joint stu- 
dent, administration, and faculty com- 
mittee that oversees the activities of the 
EDC, says the goal of the organization 
is simple: promoting good teaching. 

"Teaching is an integral part of the 
academic profession," Demetry says. 
"But few of us have any formal training 
in instruction, and that can be very 

To help relieve that frustration, the 
faculty approved the creation of the EDC 
in 1986, and WPI agreed to provide 
$75,000 in annual funding. 

Among the goals of the EDC, Deme- 

Placing a Premium 
on Good Teaching 

try says, are helping WPI's faculty ap- 
preciate the value of good teaching, 
providing training and remediation for 
faculty members who require it, and en- 
couraging innovation in the classroom. 

So far, the EDC has funded a variety 
of activities, including the purchase of 
"The Mechanical Universe . . . and Be- 
yond," a series of 52 half-hour lessons 
in physics, electrical engineering, and 
mechanical engineering produced by the 
Public Broadcasting Service to be used 
as teaching aids. 

The EDC also sponsored on-campus 
teaching workshops by Lawrence M. 
Aleamoni, director of the Institute for 
Educational Research and Development 
at the University of Arizona. Aleamoni 's 
counsel and other tips on good teaching 
will be circulated in an occasional pub- 
lication called Notes to the Faculty. 

One of the EDC's major tasks, De- 
metry says, is the presentation of annual 
grants to faculty members who wish to 
develop innovative approaches to 


"Educational innovation is an area 
where WPI can make a real contribu- 
tion," Demetry says. "It's important that 
we support it." 

Last fall, the EDC distributed about 
$60,000 to more than 20 faculty and 
staff members. The grants included 
funding for four new courses and the 
production of several new educational 
videotapes; projects that will introduce 
the computer into the classroom and 
fine-tune the college's writing program; 
a workshop on advising Interactive 
Qualifying Projects; a symposium on the 
teaching of science; a "space forum" 
for students doing space-related projects 
and research; and a lecture series on 
women, minorities, and technology. 

"These are all exciting projects," De- 
metry says. "I think we've taken a major 
step forward in our efforts to sharpen 
our edge in stimulating instruction at 

—Michael Dorsey 


Following publication of a story en- 
titled "Room with a View" (WPI 
Journal, Summer 1987), profiling 
Alfred A. Molinari '63, additional infor- 
mation about Mr. Molinari's association 
with his former employer. Analogic 
Corp., was brought to the attention of 
WPI officials. Clarification of several 
issues is in order: 

Mr. Molinari claimed that it is com- 
mon practice for larger companies such 
as Analogic to discourage entrepreneur- 
ship by "squashing new competition" 
with lawsuits, and that Analogic brought 
a lawsuit against his new company based 
upon nebulous claims. The following are 
the facts of record: 

Mr. Molinari lost his case, and on ap- 
peal, the Supreme Judicial Court of 
Massachusetts, in its decision, cited in 
the case reports of Massachusetts as 371 
Mass. 643, said, "The master's report 

sets out the following findings. Analogic 
employed the defendants Molinari and 
Fishman during the development of an 
unpatented, high-speed data acquisition 
module. The development of this device 
consumed some eighteen months and 
over $100,000. Thereafter Molinari re- 
signed in 1973 at the plaintiff's request. 
Fishman subsequently left the plaintiff's 
employ on his own motion. These two 
defendants then met with the defendant 
James Neil Forster to form Data Trans- 
lation, Inc., for the purpose of creating 
a data acquisition module similar in all 
respects to that of Analogic. At the time 
of the departure of Fishman and Moli- 
nari from Analogic they signed state- 
ments indicating that they were not 
taking with them any documents or any 
material belonging to Analogic. How- 
ever, utilizing documents, drawings, and 
a sample of the plaintiff's module 'MP 
6912,' the defendants were able to cre- 
ate a copy of a module in a few months 
at a cost of approximately $2,500. They 

then commenced marketing module DT 
1610 at a price comparable to, or less 
than, that of the 'MP 6912.' The mas- 
ter found that none of the individual de- 
fendants was capable of designing such 
a module in less than one year without 
use of their special knowledge of the 

MP 6912,' and that the defendants 
Molinari and Fishman violated their 
agreements with the plaintiff in using 
data and documents belonging to the 

Final judgment of the Court ordered 
Mr. Molinari and the other defendants to 
pay Analogic money damages and or- 
dered them not to manufacture or sell 
the product in question for one and a 
half years, the length of time it would 
have taken to legitimately copy the prod- 
uct had they done so in the first place. 

WPI regrets the implications which the 
original story may have held for the 
ethics and integrity of the officers of 
Analogic Corp. 
The Editor 

WINTER 1988 


Sink or Swim: 
Helping Freshmen Succeed 

Every college has its elite 
students. But the law of 
averages dictates that 
every college class will also 
include a small group of stu- 
dents who, for one reason or 
another, find the grade too 

From time to time, it is im- 
portant for a college to ask 
why the pursuit of an aca- 
demic degree will, for some, 
end in failure. Does the cause 
lie in high school prepara- 
tion, faculty advising, insuf- 
ficient remedial attention, or, 
perhaps, the sink-or-swim at- 
titude of the institution itself? 

"We'll always have fail- 
ures," allows William R. Grogan '46, 
dean of undergraduate studies. "In such 
an intensive academic arena, it's inevi- 
table. But, how we respond to this situ- 
ation—both for the troubled student and 
for the future student — is crucial." 

Last summer, a study group made up 
of faculty members and administrators 
compared academically troubled and ac- 
ademically exceptional freshmen from a 
current class. The group's goal was to 
find common denominators that can help 
explain and prevent freshman failures. 

"The data we uncovered," says Ann 
C. Garvin, committee chair and director 
of academic advising, "reveal the many 
threads in the fabric of the WPI experi- 
ence, but no one factor explains the ac- 
ademic difficulties of the freshmen 

Still, several of the committee's find- 
ings contribute significantly to under- 
standing how to help troubled students. 

Starting with the admissions process, 
the committee could find no evidence to 
suggest deficiencies in how WPI selects 
its students. In fact, the class in question 
was academically very strong. 

The committee found, however, that 
SAT scores are not always accurate 
predictors of collegiate success; high 
school class rank and academic achieve- 

clearly linked to several cases 
of student failure. 


By Kenneth McDonnell 

ment test results were better. 

"This isn't news to us," says Grogan, 
"and it validates a nationwide trend to 
downplay the importance of SATs in the 
student selection process." 

In addition, students who ran into 
trouble during their first year typically 
had problems in several subjects. But 
their difficulty was most evident in 
mathematics and, to a lesser extent, 
chemistry. Larger-than-normal class 
sizes in some math courses and a preva- 
lence of new mathematics faculty mem- 
bers, with different styles of teaching 
and grading, may have contributed to the 
situation, the committee reported. 

But one fact is plain: 64 percent of 
students who chose not to repeat a failed 
math course also failed the next math 
course they took. 

Residential and social factors seemed 
to have little effect on academic per- 
formance. On the other hand, commut- 
ing students seemed to fare better, on 
average, than residential students, and 
women seemed to find adjusting to col- 
lege more challenging than their male 
classmates. Finally, student alcohol 
problems and family illnesses were 

* Motivation and dis- 
cipline may be the 
most vital ingredi- 
ents in successfully negotiat- 
ing the freshman year," says 
Bill Grogan. This age-old 
idea sums up his reading of 
the committee's conclusions. 
"The students who worked 
hard and did well in high 
school— those who developed 
good study skills and disci- 
pline—are the students who 
are most likely to make it 
through the crucial freshman 
year at WPI," he says. 
How can the college help those for 
whom motivation and discipline are 
problems? "If anything," Grogan con- 
tends, "we've underestimated the im- 
portance of prompt and vigorous action 
in responding to freshmen who develop 
problems in the fall semester. We need 
to learn more about how failures may be 
alleviated through better advising and 

Toward these ends, says Grogan, stu- 
dent life and faculty advisers will watch 
more diligently for early signs of trou- 
ble. Further, the admissions office will 
place more emphasis on evidence of mo- 
tivation and perseverance, academic 
achievement tests, and high school class 
rank in screening applicants. 

In addition, freshmen must now pass 
each course in the math and chemistry 
sequences before proceeding. 

The committee will continue its study, 
Grogan says, largely to find ways of 
helping motivate students to reach their 
potential. As a step in that direction, 
WPI will participate in a pilot project of 
the Noel/Leivitz Centers for Institutional 
Effectiveness and Innovation. The study 
will test a psychological inventory that 
should help WPI measure student moti- 
vation and pinpoint students who need 
extra help— before they fail. 




To Convert, or Not to Convert: 
That's the Question for Electric 

Interactive Qualifying Project by Ray- 
mond R. Labbe '88, Marc R. Moran 
'88, and Peter E. Nordquist Jr. '88 

Advisor: Douglas W. Woods, professor 
and head, Social Science and Policy 
Studies Department 

In the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s, 
several New England electric utilities 
modified the boilers of their oil-burning 
power plants to enable them to burn coal, 
a less expensive domestic fuel. In recent 
years, though, falling oil prices have 
made it difficult to justify the expense 
of converting oil plants, and, in fact, no 
coal conversions are currently on the 
drawing board in New England. 

According to this study, however, coal 
conversions carry with them a host of 
benefits that should make them attrac- 
tive today — and in the long run. 

Combining basic economics and com- 
puter science, the students first devel- 
oped a model with which a utility can 
weigh the economic pros and cons of 
converting a power plant to coal. 

The model takes into account a variety 
of economic factors related to the cost 
and benefits of making an investment in 
coal conversion and weighs these against 
three possible scenarios for the future 
price of oil, enabling a utility to deter- 
mine whether a conversion will make 
strict economic sense. 

In most cases, Labbe, Moran, and 
Nordquist say, utilities would save 
money by converting, since forecasts 
show the price of oil is likely to increase 
dramatically within five to 10 years. 
These savings could be passed on to the 

But they also note that there are non- 
economic factors that should be consid- 
ered. For example, coal conversions help 
to revive the flagging U.S. coal industry 
and decrease the nation's dependence on 
foreign oil. 

Helping People See the Dangers 
of Fire 

Interactive Qualifying Project by Jan 
Husby '89, Eric Martin '89, and Mat- 
thew G. Mooney '88. 

Advisors: Jonathan R. Barnett, associ- 
ate, Center for Firesafety Studies; and 
Holly K. Ault, instructor of mechanical 

Each year, fire kills some 6,000 people 
and causes billions of dollars worth of 
damage; most of these losses occur in 
homes and apartments. 

To help understand how fires start and 
spread, scientists use a variety of com- 
puter models that can simulate the 
growth of a room fire, given such factors 
as the size of the room and the way it is 

However, while these models could 
prove valuable as educational tools, most 
display their results in the form of num- 
bers or graphs that may not be easily 
understood by nonprofessionals. 

Therefore, Husby, Martin, and Moo- 
ney decided to use the power of com- 
puter graphics to make the message of 
the fire models readily apparent. 

They designed a computer program 
that transforms the output of the Harvard 
Fire Code, one of the most widely used 
simulations, into a form that can be eas- 
ily read by graphics software. With this 
interface, a user can create a room, ig- 
nite a fire, and then watch the way the 
fire develops. 

The students tested the animation pro- 
gram on fire protection engineers, fire 
fighters, and lay people. They learned 
that their program does indeed work well 
as an educational tool, not only for the 
general public, but for architects and de- 
sign engineers as well. They also gath- 
ered suggestions that will help them 
make the program easier to use and 

Looking for Links Between 
Science and Art 

Interactive Qualifying Project by Pa- 
trick Brennan '87, Michael P. Burke 
'89, Ralph A. Desrosiers '88, and Ia- 
kovos A. Iakovou '89. 

Advisor: Lance E. Schachterle , chair- 
man, Division of Interdisciplinary 

Traditionally, science and the arts have 
been seen as separate, and sometimes 
conflicting, pursuits. According to this 
project, however, science and art share a 
common ground. Artists and writers 
have often acted as the social conscience 
for scientists. 

Conversely, science has aided the de- 
velopment of the arts by providing tools, 
such as the printing press, film projec- 
tor, and computer-animated graphics and 
film effects. 

In recent years, cybernetics— the study 
of human control functions and of me- 
chanical and electronic systems designed 
to replace them— has been an intersect- 
ing point for science and the arts. 

For their project, students analyzed 
several works of modern fiction , looking 
for the influence of cybernetics on mod- 
ern authors. 

They found that the subject of cyber- 
netics is sometimes treated in modern 
literature— especially science fiction— as 
an integral part of the plot. More subtle 
is the way authors integrate principles of 
cybernetics into their works, as when the 
central characters are called on to solve 
problems, as a computer would, using 
feedback or the input of information. 

They also looked at the growth of in- 
telligent computers, which are being 
programmed to write poetry and create 
works of art that rival works created by 
people. This fusion of science and art 
may, they argue, erase the line between 
these disciplines forever. 

— Elizabeth B. Glidden, assistant direc- 
tor of the WPI News Service 

8 WINTER 1988 






The State of the 

For many 
of today's 
music and 
drama are 
among WPI's 

The Wind Ensemble (above) 
rehearses under the baton 
of Douglas G. Weeks, direc- 
tor of applied music. Mem- 
bers of the Women 's 
Chorale (right) perform 
during a Christmas concert 
for the WPI community. 

By Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

Louis Curran, director 
of the WPI Glee 
Club, recently asked a 
gifted student musi- 
cian why he wasn't attending 
a music conservatory instead 
of a college of engineering 
and science. 

The young man paused for 
a moment, then explained 
that most of his musician 
friends were either unem- 
ployed or playing on street 
corners. Since he had both 
artistic and technical abili- 
ties, he opted for an engi- 
neering career. "That way," 
he told Curran, "I can sup- 
port my music." 

This story is indicative of 
the changing WPI student 
body— one no longer drawn 
solely from the ranks of bud- 
ding engineers and scientists. 


More and more, students are 
coming to WPI not just for 
the quality of its academic 
programs, but for the prolif- 
eration of performing arts 
programs. The programs are 
buoyed by a strong Humani- 
ties Department and a degree 
requirement called the Hu- 
manities Sufficiency, which 
gives students the opportu- 
nity to explore deeply an area 
of music or drama, among 
other areas. 

Douglas Weeks, who was 
appointed in 1987 to the 
newly created position of ad- 
ministrator of applied music, 
remembers when all the mu- 
sic programs then on cam- 
pus—the Brass Choir, Glee 
Club, Wind Ensemble, Stage 
Band, and Women's Cho- 
rale—operated out of a house 
on Schussler Road. 

That was eight years ago. 
Since then. Weeks says, in- 
terest in music has increased 
so much that every one of 
Alden Memorial's practice 
rooms is booked solid. It's 
no wonder, with the addition 
of musical groups like the 
Woodwind Ensemble, WPI 
lazz Band, WPI Jazz Work- 
shop, a saxophone ensemble, 
a group that plays improvi- 
sational jazz, the Baker's 
Dozen, the Madrigal, and the 
Medwin String Ensemble. A 
similar renaissance has taken 
place in drama. Under the di- 
rection of Amherst, Mass., 
playwright Susan Vick, as- 
sociate professor of drama 
and theater, student interest 
in the theater has blossomed. 
In addition to fall and spring 
productions— including The 
Sandbox, Twelfth Night, TaT 
ley's Folly, A Moon for the 
Misbegotten , and You Can 't 
Take it With You, Vick now 
supervises New Voices, a 
festival of plays written, pro- 
duced, directed, and per- 
formed by students. 

Both programs will receive 
a major boost within a couple 
of years. By then, Alden Me- 
morial Hall, the nearly 50- 
year-old auditorium that is 

home to drama and music at 
WPI, will undergo an exten- 
sive renovation to convert it 
to a center for the Humani- 
ties Department and the per- 
forming arts. Included in the 
plans is the transformation of 
the main auditorium into a 
performing arts center, com- 
plete with a modern theater 
and music performance and 
rehearsal areas. 

Doug Weeks' Alden 
Hall tower office is 
the first stop on a 
tour of WPI's per- 
forming arts programs. To 
find Weeks, just follow the 
strains of horn and wood- 
wind that filter down the 
stairwell and through the 
halls of Alden. You'll find 
him framed by gothic win- 
dows and surrounded by mu- 
sic stands and heaps of 
musical scores. From this 
perch, Weeks tends to the 
dozens of students who come 
and go looking for sheet mu- 
sic, seeking guidance with 
their rehearsals, or simply 
stopping by to chat. 

A patient, caring man. 
Weeks takes the interruptions 
in stride. After all, he notes, 
such visits are a sign of the 
success that has marked 
WPI's musical efforts. As 
further proof, he points out 
that about 100 students sang 
with WPI's vocal groups in 
the fall of 1987, about 150 
played with instrumental 
groups, and many did both. 
At least 300 students out of 
an undergraduate population 
of about 2,500 enroll each 
year in music courses and 
performing organizations. 

"Music is an important and 
positive avocation for the stu- 
dents here," he explains. "In 
spite of their heavy sched- 
ules, it's important for them 
to perform. I have graduate 
students who have been here 
six years and are still 

Count Linda Blackmar '86 
among the loyal performers. 
Despite a hectic job as a 

technical writer at Data Gen- 
eral Corporation, she still 
plays French horn in the WPI 
Brass Choir and Wind En- 
semble. Blackmar, who 
transferred to WPI after at- 
tending Oberlin and Nichols 
colleges, says she wouldn't 
have come to WPI if there 
had been no music program. 
"Music makes up most of 
my memories of WPI," she 
says. "That's where I had 
most of my fun and where I 
met my fiance." She notes 
that many WPI students re- 
main involved in the arts long 
after their humanities re- 
quirement is fulfilled. "Mu- 
sic is a great way to put your 
books aside and blow off 

Douglas Weeks oversees a 
growing music performance 
program that provides a 
music outlet to a loyal 
group of more than 200 
students a year. "Music is 
an important and positive 
avocation for the students 
here," Weeks says. "In 
spite of their heavy sched- 
ules, it's important for them 
to perform." 

steam," she says. "It's a pro- 
ductive outlet." 

In high school, WPI fresh- 
man Thomas Bober, a math- 
ematics major, was an all- 
Massachusetts trumpet player 
and occasional professional 
musician. When he was 

Susan Vick (standing), associate professor of drama, 
and some of the participants in a recent edition of "New 
Voices " (left to right, from top: Patrick Brennan '87, 
Ann Palmer '88, Jason Zee '88, Nancy Teasdale '88, 
and Jamie Anderson '88. 

10 WINTER 1988 


"ot long after arriving at WPI in 1981, Susan Vick, 
a playwright whose work has been produced in 
New England and off-Broadway, began fielding 
questions from students about writing plays. 

One student asked Vick if she could write a play for her 
Humanities Sufficiency. Although privately skeptical, Vick 
agreed to work with her. 

Vick had written her first play at the age of 35, an age 
suitably ripe for play writing, she says. Could someone so 
young possess the depth of experience to write plays? she 
asked herself. 

The script turned out to be quite good, Vick says. Then, 
through word of mouth, other students came her way. 
"Some of the work was extraordinary," she says. 

Before long, she was inundated with new works. "I 
finally decided that writing was not enough. These kids 
had to perform so they could see what they had done." 

Staged readings led to staged productions, and thus was 
born New Voices, an annual festival of new works written 
and produced by undergraduates. 

"The program has gone wild," Vick says. "Last year we 
produced 21 works by WPI students, 125 students per- 
formed, 1,200 people saw the plays, and the performances 
ran for four days." 

One of the students whose works have been featured in 
New Voices is Ann Palmer '88. A slight woman whose 
small face is framed by dark brown curls, Palmer awed 
Vick and the WPI community in 1986 with her play Why 
Did You Tell Me?, a frank discussion of adolescent homo- 
sexuality. An earlier effort, Jan Always Taught Me How to 
Listen, was also staged in New Voices. 

Palmer says the support she has received from Vick and 
her peers has given her a tremendous boost in morale. 

For the moment, Vick serves as a one-person screening 
committee for the festival. She begins reading scripts in 
January and soon after starts the search for student actors 
and directors. Festival time can get a bit frenzied, she says, 
but adds, "it's worth it." 

looking at colleges a year 
ago, a solid music program 
was a major concern. Al- 
though the rest of the schools 
on his "wish list" had music 
programs, Bober says he 
liked the course selection at 
WPI and the relaxed mood of 
its music division. 

"The conductors and mu- 
sicians are excellent," he says 
of the Brass Choir and Jazz 
Band, with which he per- 
forms. "Everyone under- 
stands that this is an engi- 
neering college with a lot of 
demands on our time," he 
s notes. 


s another school day 
winds to a close at 
WPI, the sound of 
.50 male voices 
soars majestically through 
Alden Hall, the deep, rich 
tones of the young perform- 
ers blending perfectly as they 
rehearse a Bach chorale. The 
Glee Club was one of the first 
musical groups at WPI, 
formed when the college was 
just two years old. Like the 
musical groups that existed 
through much of the col- 
lege's history, it served a 
largely ceremonial function, 
Louis Curran says. 

When he was hired in the 
mid-1960s to manage the col- 
lege's musical efforts, Cur- 
ran set to work organizing the 
various musical groups into a 
formal program. His aim was 
to have each musical group 
perform before more and 
broader audiences. That the 
performance schedule and 
student interest have flour- 
ished testifies to his dedica- 
tion and drive. Every year, 
each vocal and instrumental 
group performs throughout 
the Worcester community and 
on many college campuses. 
The Jazz Ensemble and Stage 
Band have performed on tel- 
evision and radio and at jazz 
festivals. Its members pro- 
duce a promotional recording 
each year. The Brass Choir 
performed at EXPO '86 in 
Vancouver at the invitation of 

WPI's reputation 
as a center of mu- 
sical excellence 
has blossomed, at- 
tracting more and 
more talented mu- 
sicians to fill the 
ranks of the grow- 
ing selection of 



"Music is a great 

way to put your 

books aside and 

blow off steam. It's 

a productive 


Richard Falco: Forming 
a Nucleus for Jazz 

Richard Falco, 
instructor of mu- 
sic, has helped 
make WPI into 
the heart of 
Worcester's jazz 

Jazz Worcester seemed to burst from nowhere in 1985. 
Actually, according to Richard Falco, a Worcester 
jazz musician who is both an instructor of music and 
director of WPI's jazz programs, the origin of the 
now yearly festival goes back many years. Under Fal- 
co's direction, the Stage Band and Jazz Ensemble had long 
been jamming with other area college groups. Then, in 
1985, Worcester's jazz community decided to stage a jazz 
celebration featuring a nationally recognized performer. 

Through a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Lottery 
and the support of the Worcester Cultural Commission, 
Falco and others created a seven-day festival in collabora- 
tion with Clark University, Worcester State College, and 
other institutions. The likes of vibraphonist Gary Burton 
and jazz guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie 
have performed at WPI and at other locations around 

The first Jazz Worcester dazzled the community, Falco 
believes, partly because of the vast selection of jazz of- 
fered—from Dixieland to swing to fusion to avant garde. 
In addition, the festival featured "adjunct art," such as jazz 
films, poetry and dance, and jazz clinics and workshops. 

Jazz Worcester, now in its fourth year, springs back to 
life for eight days in February 1988. Every Worcester-area 
college will host performances and, following tradition, 
WPI will play a major role in sponsoring big-name acts, 
including Dizzy Gillespie and the Makoto Ozone Quartet. 

WPI, Falco notes, has become the unofficial headquar- 
ters of the Jazz Worcester Society and the heart of Worces- 
ter's jazz community. As the Society's president, Falco 
says he hopes to extend jazz events throughout the year at 
WPI and elsewhere. 

"If Worcester and New England sense that WPI is 
wrapped up in jazz," he says, "it's true." 

the EXPO Committee. 

But the most traveled group 
by far is the Glee Club. Since 
the late 1960s, says Curran, 
the Club has been to Canada, 
to the West Coast twice, to 
Europe four times and up and 
down the East Coast "too 
many times to count." It has 
also performed on radio, 
made recordings, and per- 
formed with many top 

With Weeks' arrival and 
with the support of Humani- 
ties Department head Jo Ann 
Manfra, the program has 
continued to grow, as have 
the number of opportunities 
for students to demonstrate 
their musical talents. As a re- 
sult, WPI's reputation as a 
center of musical excellence 
has grown, attracting more 
and more talented musicians 
to fill the ranks of the grow- 
ing selection of ensembles. 


two, three, 
| now," commands 
' Rich Falco. In 
an instant, the 
Wedge is filled with the syn- 
copated rhythms of the Big 
Band sound as toes start tap- 
ping in the audience. The 
Stage Band is strutting its 

One of WPI's newer musi- 
cal groups, the Stage Band is 
an outgrowth of the Jazz En- 
semble, also under the direc- 
tion of Falco, visiting in- 
structor of music and director 
of all of WPI's jazz efforts. 

Jazz is hot at WPI, Falco 
says. So hot, in fact, that he's 
had trouble keeping up with 
students' desires to play im- 
provisationally. But he man- 
ages to keep 46 musicians 
jamming through his two jazz 
groups and the Jazz Work- 
shop. In addition, he satisfies 
his and his students' needs 
for more scholarly work with 
courses in jazz theory and 
jazz history, which he has 
taught for five years. 

Falco says it's not surpris- 
ing that music is such a hit at 
WPI. He points to a number 

12 WINTER 1988 

of studies that indicate "a 
definite connection between 
technically minded people 
and music," he says. 

Malama Robbins, adjunct 
associate professor of music 
and director of the Women's 
Chorale, agrees. "The stu- 
dents tell me that music is 
very much a part of their 
lives. It's a continuation of 
what they love to do. 

"Music is harmony, team- 
work, performance, out- 
reach, and joy of accom- 
plishment," all necessary 
components of success in the 
world, she says. 

It's a cold November eve- 
ning. Students bustle 
about the stage and the 
"green room" of Alden 
Hall, slipping into Victorian- 
era costumes, gathering 
props, making final adjust- 
ments to a sprawling set of 
platforms and ramps, testing 

Director Louis J. Curran 
Jr., associate professor of 
music (at the piano), con- 
ducts the Men 's Glee Club 
during a concert with the 
Smith College Glee Club. 
Curran, who joined WPIin 
the mid-1960s, organized 
the college's music groups 
into a formal music 


Malama Robbins and 
the Women's Chorale: 
No Experience Necessary 

The Women's Chorale after winning a silver medal in the 
Classic Intercollegiate Women's Glee Club Festival-Compe- 
tition in 1986. Director Malama Robbins (seated at right) 
founded the group in the mid-1970s. 

Even though WPI began admitting women to its un- 
dergraduate ranks in 1968, it was several years be- 
fore a women's musical program sprang up on 
campus. Women who wanted to sing in a choral 
group joined the chorus of Anna Maria College, which was 
then under the direction of Malama Robbins, founder and 
director of Worcester's acclaimed Salisbury Singers. 

In the mid-1970s, WPI agreed to sponsor its own wom- 
en's choral group at WPI and asked Robbins to be its part- 
time director. The Women's Chorale was born a few years 

From a small but dedicated group of women, the Chorale 
has grown to a 24-member chorus that maintains a busy 
schedule of performances throughout New England. Two 
years ago, it won a silver medal in the Intercollegiate Wom- 
en's Glee Club Festival competition at Molloy College in 
New York. 

As the chorus has grown, so has its reputation, says 
Robbins, who since 1984 has been an adjunct faculty mem- 
ber at WPI. She says she has fielded invitations to perform 
from schools as diverse as the U.S. Military Academy and 
Marist College. The group also performs with the WPI 
Glee Club. 

No experience is necessary to join the Chorale, and Rob- 
bins says some women join the group uncertain about their 
abilities, only to discover they can indeed sing. In recent 
years, she adds, more and more women are entering WPI 
who have gained fairly extensive singing experience in high 


Noting that 10 new freshmen with choral experience 
joined the ranks, Robbins says that "this year was the best 


out a galaxy of stage lights 
and projection screens. Sus- 
pended in the rafters, other 
students warm up on synthe- 
sizer and electronic drums, 
practicing an irreverent ver- 
sion of "Rule Britannia." 
The scene is a dress rehearsal 
for Cloud 9, last fall's smash 
hit and the theater program's 
latest in a long line of suc- 
cessful productions. 

Theater at WPI may not go 
back as many years as the In- 
stitute's musical heritage, but 
its history is equally colorful. 
The first known dramatic 
group, the Tech Dramatic 
Association, was around as 
early as 1911. This organi- 
zation evolved into Masque, 
which put on its first per- 

David McKay: A New Twist to the Art of Making Musi 

Give David McKay a Macintosh computer, some 
speakers, and a synthesizer, and he'll give you 
back an orchestra. Tell him a humorous story and 
he's liable to turn it into an opera. Present him 
with poems and he may put them to music. Show him an 
organ with a pleasing resonance and he might write some 
music for it. 

McKay, head of WPI's Music Division, is a veritable 
musical creation machine. In his prolific 32-year career as 
teacher, composer, musicologist, and musician, McKay has 
churned out enough music and written material to warrant 
his own shelf in the Gordon Library. 

McKay's experimentation with the computer and 
synthesizer— his latest interest — stems, in part, from his 
sense that WPI should stay in tune with the latest technolog- 
ical developments in music. Since its introduction in the 
early 1980s, he points out, synthesizer technology "has 
become basic to many music programs." 

Synthesizers and computers have also become handy for 
McKay's own compositions, which lately have included an 
operatic version of Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying, com- 
missioned by the Society for the Preservation of Southern 
Culture for performance in 1989. 

McKay is also trying to set up a performance of a short 
"politico-comic" opera about a certain First Lady called 
The Arbitrator, or And Your Husband 's One, Too. 

McKay has better luck than most composers getting his 
work performed. The Yellow Wallpaper, an opera based on a 
19th-century feminist short story— was presented in London 
by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Another opera, 
Bathsheba Spooner, was commissioned by the American 
Antiquarian Society and recently performed in Worcester. 

But McKay, an Athens, Ga., native, doesn't just compose 
operas. A true renaissance man, he has 40 or 50 other com- 

positions to his credit, including cantatas, a mass, a 
requiem, and works for winds, brass, and chorus — even 
settings for the poems of Stanley Kunitz. 

A noted musicologist and specialist in early American 
music, he is also the co-author of William Billings of Bos- 
ton, winner of the Kinkeldey Award for the best music book 
of the year in 1975. Moreover, McKay has edited a wide 
range of Early American music for a variety of publishers. 
His topics have included colonial band and choral music 
and colonial opera. 

Then there are McKay's four recordings on the Folkways 
label, all involving early American or 19th-century Ameri- 
can music. 

David McKay came to WPI in 1956 with a bachelor's 
degree from Oberlin College and two master's degrees, one 
from the New England Conservatory and one from Brown 
University. Until the 1960s, he taught English. Courses in 
musicology and composition followed. 

During his years here, McKay has traveled extensively, 
lecturing everywhere "from London to Los Angeles. I've 
lectured at Oxford to the east," he notes, "and UCLA to the 
west, plus many places in between." 

He is particularly fond of the organ and served for 10 
years as the organist for the First Unitarian Church in Wor- 
cester. One of McKay's favorite concertos is the one he 
wrote to celebrate the restoration of the famous Hook organ 
in Worcester's Mechanics Hall. 

Although he favors the operatic form, McKay is finding it 
difficult to work with contemporary subjects that involve 
copyright restrictions. He is also finding the cost of produc- 
ing full-scale operas prohibitive and is instead focusing on 
20-minute pieces. But whatever he works on, whether it's 
computers or cantatas, one thing is certain— he'll never lack 

14 WINTER 1988 

A scene from Caryl Chur- 
chill's Cloud 9, a recent 
production of Masque, 
WPI's active and innovative 
student drama group. Susan 
Vick, associate professor of 
drama and theater, says it is 
WPI students and their 
"passion for the arts" that 
have made the program the 
success it is. 

formance in 1923 and contin- 
ues to be WPI's premier 
dramatic organization. Men 
played all the women's roles 
in Masque's productions un- 
til 1968, when women started 
attending the college. 
Susan Vick arrived on 

campus in 1981. Inheriting 
"a good, but small, group of 
students," Vick discovered 
that Alden Hall was provid- 
ing temporary quarters for the 
Electrical Engineering De- 
partment while renovations to 
Atwater Kent Laboratories 
were being completed. 

With no practice space or 
technical support, and with 
classes to teach and the re- 
sponsibility to put on two 
productions a year, she "sim- 
ply panicked." But Vick had 
one thing going for her: Lens 
and Lights, a skilled and 
dedicated cadre of students 
interested in the technical as- 
pects of theater. Also, there 
was Masque, still active after 
so many years. 

Composer David McKay, head of WPI's Music Division, 
has explored a wide range of musical styles, forms, and 
subjects in his prolific 32-year career. Lately, he has 
turned his attention to the art of electronic music. 

Vick's first production was 
Our Town. She says she 
chose it because she found it 
works well in theater-in-the- 
round. She had already sized 
up the visual and acoustical 
limitations of Alden— "the 
alienating factors" of the 
hall, she calls them— and de- 
cided to place both perform- 
ance and audience on stage 
by constructing not only a 
set, but a theater as well, for 
each play. Placing the audi- 
ence on stage also alleviated 
another concern. Because of 
the decided technological 
bent of the student body, she 
had doubts about the level of 
interest in theater on campus 
and dreaded the prospect of 
her casts playing to a vast, 
empty auditorium. 

As it turned out, the on- 
stage arrangement worked 
beautifully, and WPI prod- 
uctions have consistently at- 
tracted full houses. "Our 
largest audience that first year 
was 125, though Cloud 9 re- 
cently played to a record au- 
dience of 233," she says, 
adding that she has staged her 
plays in this manner ever 
since because of her belief 
that "intimate theater is very 
important." Vick has found 
that her dramatic literature 
classes and the Humanities 
Sufficiency work in tandem 
to feed the performing end of 
the drama program. For ex- 
ample, students read plays in 
class and ask to perform 
them. Others attend her 
classes and are inspired to 
write or direct a play for their 

Recently, Ann Palmer and 
Jason Zee, both seniors ma- 
joring in electrical engineer- 
ing, sat on the edge of the 
Alden Hall stage and talked 
about their experiences in the 
WPI theater program while 
technicians and actors buzzed 
around them preparing for a 

"Theater is a great release 
from all my technical work," 
says Palmer, who has had two 
of her plays performed as part 

"Music is har- 
mony, team-work, 
performance, out- 
reach, and joy of 
all necessary com- 
ponents of success. 



Michael Mega, second from right, and the Med- 1 
win String Ensemble. 3 


Michael Mega: 

Offering Students an Alternative to Hot Air 

Until last summer, music at WPI consisted— liter- 
ally— of a lot of hot air. For some reason, the 
college attracted many singers and players of wind 
instruments, but few players of stringed 

Now, budding violinists, cellists, and bass violin players 
have an outlet for their talents through the creation of the 
Medwin String Ensemble. Made possible through a dona- 
tion of $25,000 by Dr. Herman Medwin '41, the Ensemble 
performed for the first time last fall. 

The group is directed by Michael Mega, co-concertmas- 
ter of the Worcester Orchestra, who is actively seeking 

student players from WPI and other colleges in the Worces- 
ter Consortium for Higher Education. When the group 
reaches satisfactory size, Mega says, he hopes to see the 
group perform two to three times a year. In the meantime, 
he plans to expose the students to as much of the classical 
chamber music repertoire as possible. He wants them to 
play "everything from baroque to romantic, with possible 
expansion to the post-romantic and contemporary reper- 
tory, " he says. 

"I want to continue whatever music education these stu- 
dents had in high school," Mega says. "The arts play an 
invaluable role in rounding out their lives." 

"There is a defi- 
nite connection 
between techni- 
cally minded peo- 
ple and music." 

of the New Voices festival at 
WPI and plans to continue 
writing after graduation, at 
least as a hobby. 

What she cherishes most 
about the WPI drama pro- 
gram is the fact that it attracts 
a cross section of the WPI 
student body. Moreover, both 
she and Zee say the program 
is particularly valuable be- 
cause it introduces WPI's 
students— many of whom 
have never attended a live 
performance— to the theater. 

"Drama is tiring, but it can 

be so rewarding," says Zee, 
who has profited from semi- 
professional acting experi- 
ence in his native Singapore. 
Although he came to WPI for 
its engineering programs, the 
Institute's emphasis on dra- 
matic arts was also impor- 
tant. In 1986, he fulfilled his 
Sufficiency requirement by 
directing a production of A 
Streetcar Named Desire. 

"It's exciting that a for- 
eigner can get involved in di- 
recting a totally American 
cast in a classic American 

play," he says, beaming. 

In her six years at WPI, 
Vick has found "extraordi- 
nary talent" on campus. "I 
am much luckier than many 
of my colleagues in schools 
with actual theater depart- 
ments," she says. "The kids 
here are so talented, intelli- 
gent, and motivated. They 
have a real passion for the 

Amy Zuckerman Overvold is 
a free-lance writer living in 

16 WINTER 1988 

From a baby's first step to a fall leafs final hour, what images will you 
treasure throughout your life? 

This is your chance to share your best work. The photo contest's theme is 
capturing a moment of growth or change. Maybe you caught the smile of a 
student after graduation, or a scene from the time you learned to snorkle in 
Corfu. Perhaps it was a moment in your own backyard or while swapping 
memories at a class reunion. Chances are, many of your finest photos 
could fit this theme. 

Tell us, too, why the moment was special to you and we'll publish the 
answers along with the winning photos in the August issue. 


• Two first prizes of $200, one for black & white and one for color 

• Additional prizes of $75 for each published photo 


• The contest is open only to amateur photographers— those who do not make a living 
from photography. 

• Send no more than five black & white photographs and five color slides or prints. 
Prints should be no larger than 8" x 10" and no smallerthan 5" x 7". 

• All photographs will be returned after the August issue is printed— if you include a 
stamped, self-addressed envelope. 

• Include your name on the back of prints or on the mounting of slides . Include a 
separate sheet for each entry with your name, address, phone number, and college or 
university affiliation. 

• Please also send a brief statement (25 to 50 words) about why the moment was 
special to you. 

• Photographs can have been taken at any time. 

Deadline for submissions: April 1, 1988 

Send entries to the magazine, in care of the editor, and marked "photo 

contest." Questions? Call (301) 338-7904. 


N I 




Who needs a second language? Americans may — if 

they want to compete in the new global economy. Or 

even if they want a little joie de vivre. 

By Robert Kanigel 
Illustrations by Allen Carroll 

They are members of the club. 
Their walls are lined with Cam- 
bodian temple rubbings, their 
book shelves with Paris Metro 
guides, their scrapbooks with photos of 
friends they've made in Tuscany or 
Teheran. Talk to them for long and 
you're apt to detect a sense of exquisite 
delight, even a hint of one-upmanship in 
their ability to navigate through a foreign 
land or language. 

Sally Benckart endures good-hearted 
ribbing about it from her husband, Jeff. 
Benckart served in the Peace Corps in 
Chad, a former French colony in Africa. 
She had studied French literature in high 
school and in college, and lived in 
France for six months. Today, in Boul- 
der, Colo., she maintains so lively an 
interest in things French that Jeff accuses 
her of finding that culture and language 
superior to their own. 

"Oh, I don't, really," says Benckart. 
"But I do take so much pleasure in it. It's 
the way physical things, like running, 
must be for Jeff. Even all the idioms are 
exciting for me. It's like, not everyone 
knows what this phrase means." 

Other members of the club- 
diplomats, language teachers, jet-setting 
executives, scientists, and scholars who 
have worked or studied abroad — report 
kindred feelings of quiet satisfaction, 
knowledge, mastery. Thomas Ricks, a 
Middle East scholar at Villanova Univer- 
sity who is fluent in three languages and 
able to get by in four more, still remem- 
bers the time in Iran, before the revolu- 

tion, when he struck up a conversation 
with a Persian soldier while waiting for a 
bus. Where was he from? the soldier 
wondered after they'd chatted a while. 
"Mashhad," replied Ricks, a Peace 
Corps volunteer who had served in that 
northeastern Iran city for the past year 
and a half. "Why, of course," said the 
soldier. "That explains the trace of Kurd- 
ish accent." 

When Ricks added that he was an 
American, the soldier didn't believe 
him. "I had to pull out my passport and 
show it to him. He looked at it, then 
looked at me. He just couldn't believe 
it," says Ricks, plainly relishing the 
story. "It's tremendously satisfying when 
your language ability gives you that feel- 
ing of being able to pass back and forth 
between two cultures. It's an incredibly 
exhilarating feeling." 

Pleasure? Exhilaration? These are 
not among the gritty, no-nonsense 
virtues of language learning that 
the foreign language lobby cites 
when it pitches Congress for money for 
summer institutes and the like. There is a 
language lobby, as a matter of fact- 
some 30 organizations banded together 
as the National Council for Languages 
and International Studies, with offices a 
few blocks from the Capitol in Washing- 


becomes a 
even when 
the world. 


^Ct c V>y *<?,* 'e. 


ton, D.C. The council holds workshops, 
monitors legislation, publicizes horror 
stories of American language inade- 
quacy — but talks little of pleasure and 
exhilaration. "The glories of Don Quix- 
ote are very important for intellectual 
growth," allows J. David Edwards, the 
council's executive director. "But they 
don't help you get along in business." 

And it's business, along with foreign 
policy, defense, and other such practical 
matters, that Senator Paul Simon had 
most in mind in his 1980 book, The 
Tongue-Tied American, in which he 
termed the United States "linguistically 

By now, after numerous studies and 
front-line reports from the international 
trade wars, American foreign language 
ills make for a familiar litany: How stu- 
dents can earn a doctorate in this country 
and never study a foreign language. How 
more people teach English in the Soviet 
Union than learn Russian in the United 
States. How almost one quarter of 
recently promoted senior Foreign Serv- 
ice officers lacked fluency in any foreign 
language. How fourth-graders in Bot- 
swana get more language instruction 
than the average American high school 
graduate, according to a Southern Gov- 
ernors' Association study that termed the 
United States "internationally illiterate." 

David Skelly, a translator for the 
Library of Congress, recalls how at West 
Germany's University of Tubingen, 
where he studied, the Americans were 

the only group in the polyglot student 
body who needed remedial German 
classes. "They were students of Ger- 
man," he emphasizes, "yet they could 
not speak it." Not long ago, reports 
Richard Lambert, director of Johns 
Hopkins University's new National For- 
eign Language Center in Washington, 
D.C, a study of language retention con- 
ducted by Europeans specifically 
excluded the United States because 
American foreign language skills were 
deemed so low that they would distort 
the results. 

Within the language teaching commu- 
nity, language pratfalls are a source of 
rich amusement. At a meeting a few 
years ago of the Association for Asian 
Studies, Eleanor Jorden, of the Hopkins 
language center, told how her Asian 
hotel once mistakenly gave her a wake- 
up call at 4:30 a.m. instead of at 7:30. 
"It was a bit unnerving to be awakened 
at that hour, in the pitch dark, in a 
strange hotel, still suffering from jet 
lag," she said. "I jumped up and grabbed 
the telephone, trying to remember where 
I was and what I was doing. A voice at 
the other end announced in English, 
'Your hour has come.' " 

But other gaffes can bear more serious, 
dollars-and-cents consequences. As 
when Chevrolet tried to peddle its Nova 

in Latin America, apparently unaware 
that no va, in Spanish, means doesn 't go. 
Or when Parker, boasting its pens 
wouldn't embarrass you by leaking, used 
the Spanish embarazado for "embar- 
rassed"— except that embarazado means 

Life or death can hinge on understand- 
ing a word. The head of the Library of 
Congress's translation unit, Deanna 
Hammond, tells of how poor Spanish 
translations of American maintenance 
manuals contributed to the crashes of 
several American planes in Latin Amer- 
ica. And just before the terrorist attack 
on the Berlin discotheque in March 
1986, U.S. intelligence reportedly inter- 
cepted messages from Tripoli to the Lib- 
yan People's Bureau in Berlin — but could 
find no one to translate them. 

Senator Simon has argued that Ameri- 
can language ignorance may have helped 
get the United States mired in Vietnam. 
On the eve of the war, in the State 
Department and academia combined, 
fewer than five American-born experts 
on Southeast Asia could speak those lan- 
guages fluently, the senator noted. In any 
case, says Arnold "Skip" Isaacs, author 
of Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam 
and Cambodia, language problems con- 
tributed to the American defeat. 

One incident sums up for him the lan- 
guage muddle there. An American 
adviser to the South Vietnamese came 
storming off a helicopter, cursing and 
screaming at his Vietnamese counter- 
part—who couldn't comprehend a word 
he was saying. Even the interpreter 
didn't understand. "Umm, tell the 
American we won't let it happen again," 




in language 
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the skills 
are rewarding. 

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the Vietnamese finally said to the inter- 
preter, who managed to relay that mes- 
sage. The American raged a while 
longer, finally simmered down, 
reboarded his helicopter, and zoomed 
off. The upshot of the story? There is 
none. The Vietnamese and the Ameri- 
can, presumably battlefield allies, went 
their separate ways, having communi- 
cated nothing. 

Isaacs, who was a Baltimore Sun cor- 
respondent in Southeast Asia, learned 
only about a hundred words of Vietnam- 
ese while he was there, enough to haggle 
with cab drivers and order meals. For 
reporting news, briefings conducted in 
English sufficed. But for getting vil- 
lagers' personal impressions— How 

many children have you? What just hap- 
pened here?— he had to rely on inter- 
preters. Yet many of them, says Isaacs, 
could convey only raw facts, with little 
of the feelings behind them. Often, he 
sensed a screen between him and what he 
wanted to know. 

Language difficulties so distorted con- 
duct of the war that Vietnamese soldiers 
who wanted to come into the good graces 
of the Americans often depended as 
much on their language skills as on their 
military ones. "It was very difficult for 
the Americans to discern who were the 
good officers among the Vietnamese," 
says Isaacs. "You'd hear all the time: 
'This guy is really intelligent — he speaks 
excellent English.' 

Stick an American overseas and, the 

stereotype goes, you get a display of 
bumbling bluster right out of The Ugly 
American, the 1958 novel. Deanna Ham- 
mond tells of a prominent American 
who, blissfully ignorant of so much as a 
word of French, promptly got arrested in 
the Paris Metro. Turns out he sat in a 
first-class car, but had only a second- 
class ticket. A gendarme politely asked 
him to move to a second-class car. The 
American didn't understand, grew argu- 
mentative, began hollering away in 
English— and was hauled off. 

"For a simple thing like that, just a 
few words would have been enough," 
laments Hammond. The American 
couldn't even say "I'm sorry" in French. 

The Daily Californian was how a 
Berkeley newspaper had been 
known since its founding in 
1871. But on November 25, 
1986, it bore a new masthead— El Diario 
Calif orniano . The name change served 


• *nots rr '°* -"°i 


as an editorial, protesting the passage of 
Proposition 63, which made English the 
"official" language of California. 

Proposition 63 was the state's reaction 
to its growing Asian and Hispanic minor- 
ities, to how one could take a driver's test 
entirely in Chinese, or apply for welfare 
entirely in Spanish. And it expressed a 
mainstream attitude against foreign cul- 
tures and languages that goes far back in 
America — an attitude H.L. Mencken sat- 
irized when he declared, "If English was 
good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good 
enough for me." 

In his Farewell Address, George 
Washington warned his compatriots 
against alliances with the corrupt nations 
of Europe and against "the insidious 
wiles of foreign influence." American 
geography helps to reinforce the insular- 
ity rooted in American history. Even 
today, in the wake of immigrant influxes 
from Latin America, the Caribbean, and 
Asia, it is probably still possible to drive 
the 3,000 miles across the United States 
yet never encounter a road sign, sales 
clerk, newspaper, or radio broadcast in a 
language other than English. 

Moreover, around the world, centuries 
of British colonialism and, more 
recently, American superpower influ- 
ence, have made English almost as uni- 
versal as the founders of Esperanto could 
have hoped their invented language 
would be. An Italian pilot, landing an 
Italian jet in Rome, communicates with 
the Italian air-traffic controller in 
English; as The Story of English pointed 
out, it's the language of the skies around 
the world. Since the 1960s, French is no 
longer the language of international 
diplomacy; English is. German, long a 
requisite of any scientific or engineering 
student, since World War II has also 
been displaced by English. Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Provost H. 

Richard Gallagher points out that 
English today is the language of many 
articles even in German journals. In 
business, in government, on vacation- 
almost everywhere, it seems, Americans 
can get by with only their native tongue. 

Edwin Hermann, who for 13 years 
was an international banker based in Bal- 
timore, recalls getting by fine on English 
and the little Spanish he picked up in 
high school and at Western Maryland 
College, from which he was graduated in 
1970. With Europeans, he found, "if 
you're not comfortable in German or 
French, they switch over to English." 
The Latin Americans weren't always so 
obliging, but banking transactions were 
usually conducted by telex, anyway, and 
Hermann could read the Spanish even if 
he couldn't speak it. "I always feared 
someone would call who didn't know 
English at all," he says. "But it didn't 
happen. Knowing that U.S. people don't 
speak much Spanish, they'd put someone 
on the phone who knew English." Mean- 
while, he reports, big New York banks 
with large international divisions would 
employ a Latin American native or two. 
"These people were invaluable," he 
says. "They'd rescue you from a lot of 
sticky problems." 

And so, Americans have been wont to 
ask, who needs foreign languages? Can 
we not get by quite well, thank you, 
without the awful verb endings, the gut- 
tural grunts, and all the other linguistic 
paraphernalia of French and German, 
Tagalog and Thai? 

For years French teacher Sharon Scini- 
cariello, director of foreign language 
studies at Case Western Reserve Univer- 
sity (CWRU), was asked just that by her 
students. Now she tells them about what 
happened one day in a Columbus, Ohio, 
shopping mall. She was sitting at a cafe, 
eating lunch, when someone rushed in 
and cried, "Does anyone here speak 
French?" Like a doctor whisked to the 
scene of an accident, she was led to a 
boy of 9 or 10, an exchange student from 
France, newly on his own in English 
with his American host family. The shy, 
bewildered boy couldn't make known his 
most basic needs. He understood nothing 
of what a mall was or why they were 
there. The family's children were rattling 
on about la salle de bain (they meant la 
toilette), leaving him convinced, says 
Scinicariello, "that these crazy Ameri- 
cans took baths before going out to a res- 

The rolling r's of spoken French 

resounding through a Midwestern mall 
are one more sign of America's cultural 
and linguistic penetration from abroad. 
By one reckoning, the United States is 
now the third largest Spanish-speaking 
country in the world. In New York and 
Miami, recording studios churn out 
Latin-tinged pop songs, some of which 
have begun to reach the charts. In Los 
Angeles, the number of court sessions 
requiring translators has doubled in the 
past five years, to more than 4,000 annu- 
ally. Universities are increasingly popu- 
lated by foreigners; almost half of WPI's 
360 graduate students hail from abroad, 
and Hopkins' 1,200 foreign students 
come from more than 60 countries. 
Today, cities like Cleveland boast of 
their sister city status with places like 
Alexandria in Egypt, Bangalore in India, 
and Gdansk in Poland. Immigrant- 
launched Vietnamese, Thai, and Ethio- 
pian restaurants now compete with the 
Chinese, Italian, and French ones that 
once cornered the exotic cuisine trade. 

The layers of insulation between 
America and the rest of the world are 
falling away, the evidence suggests, and 
"the United States is experiencing," as 
one writer has put it, "one of its periodic 
alarms about the paucity of foreign- 
language study among its youth." Catch- 
ing the same tide that's begun to revital- 
ize the liberal arts generally, foreign 
language enrollments are way up. Even 
Latin is making a comeback. More than 
70 colleges and universities have 
recently added foreign language require- 
ments for admission or graduation. And 
college teaching positions listed by the 
Modern Language Association have 
climbed more than 50 percent in two 
years. "I don't think interest has ever 
been higher," says foreign language lob- 
byist Dave Edwards. What's more, he 
stresses, this latest surge is welling up 
from the grass roots, not— as was the 
case after Sputnik, in the late 1950s— 
being legislated from on high. 

Fueling the shift, of course, are 
dollars— and yen and deutsche marks. 
The American economy is increasingly 
stitched into the world economy. This 
fall's volatile shifts in the New York 
Stock Exchange resonated with those in 
Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt. The 
streets of Detroit are lined with Toyotas 
from Nagoya and Mercedes from Stutt- 
gart. The Japanese buy up prime Man- 
hattan real estate and Korean immigrants 
buy out local mom-and-pop stores. The 
price of wheat in South Dakota rises or 


falls with the latest crisis in the Persian 
Gulf or power shift in Moscow. 

"One of the reasons we can't sell agri- 
cultural products (abroad) is that we 
can't deal with them on their own cul- 
tural and language levels," former South 
Dakota Governor William Janklow told 
editors of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader a 
few years ago. Farmers, he said, had as 
much reason to leam foreign languages 
as city slickers. "Would you buy from a 
guy who came here and spoke Portu- 
guese? Hell no. You want him talking in 
your language." 

American business people have been 
among the most recalcitrant about apply- 
ing the maxim that the language of busi- 
ness is the language of the customer. One 
American executive in Europe, the story 
goes, could barely utter a bonjour after 
seven years in a French-speaking coun- 
try; despite a good product, he antago- 
nized his distributors and lost the market 
to his competitors. More recently, syndi- 
cated business columnist Tom Peters, 
author of In Search of Excellence , wrote 
of being pleasantly surprised on buying a 
product in quality-conscious Germany 
and learning it was made in the USA. 
His pleasure was quashed when he found 
the assembly instructions written only in 
English. Imagine, he asked, if a BMW 
bought in America were to come with an 
owner's manual only in German. 

A few years ago, when Nippon Tele- 
phone and Telegraph went abroad for 
bids for a big contract, the company stip- 
ulated that all documents had to be exe- 
cuted in Japanese; not a single American 
firm applied, reports Dave Edwards. 
Others have pointed out, moreover, that 
the Japanese are often in no rush to pub- 
lish key scientific and technological find- 
ings in English — and that information not 
yet translated remains, though unpat- 
ented, as inaccessible to Americans as if 
it were. 

Ironically, it was once the Japanese 
who were guilty of linguistic and cultural 
isolationism. In the 1860s, a Japanese 
visitor to the United States reported back 
that all single women here were called 
Joan, while married ladies got the suffix 
"son," as in Joanson. Nor was it so long 
ago that the instructions for a Japanese 
abacus could bear the slogan, "What 
Brings Comfort and Convenience on 
Your Life." On their way to becoming a 
world trading power, of course, the Japa- 
nese learned the price they paid for their 
isolationism. Today some 1,300 English 
language schools operate in Tokyo 

alone, and by one estimate, one in 10 
Japanese studies English. 

Roused by the trade deficit, Americans 
may at last be learning the Japanese les- 
son. The National Science Foundation is 
launching a program to encourage Amer- 
ican graduate students and postdocs to 
study Japanese and, across the nation, 
Japanese language enrollments are up. 
Indeed, when Carnegie-Mellon Univer- 
sity announced that it would offer Japa- 
nese if 10 students signed up, it got 100. 
CWRU offers three levels of Japanese. 

The trade gap with Japan widens — and 
enrollment in Japanese language pro- 
grams goes up: a powerful pragmatic 
streak runs through the American charac- 
ter, a trait noted by observers as far back 
as Alexis de Tocqueville. The resurgence 
in foreign languages plainly owes much 
to this pragmatism. "Never before has 
there been the economic motivation that 
exists now for Americans to understand 
and be knowledgeable about foreign cus- 
toms and business procedures," said Vir- 
ginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, who 
pointed out that South exported some 
$54 billion worth of goods in 1984. "It is 
a lot easier to sell a product if you know 
something of the customs, language, and 
background of the customer," he added. 

And a lot easier, as Eduardo Feller can 
attest, to sell your ideas. A science pol- 
icy adviser with the National Science 
Foundation's international division, 
Feller recalls a negotiating session 
between Brazil and the U.S. on a scien- 
tific cooperation pact. It had reached the 
crossing-of-f's stage when, "all of a sud- 
den, it started falling apart and the Bra- 

zilians felt uptight." Feller, born in 
Bolivia of Austrian parents and fluent in 
English, Spanish, and French (and with a 
working knowledge of Italian and Portu- 
guese), thought he knew what the prob- 
lem was. 

In their draft, the Americans had writ- 
ten of "projects," which was translated 
as projetos. Ah, Feller suspected, the 
Brazilians had concluded that the Ameri- 
cans meant to include only the specific 
projects already cited, and to exclude 
others the Brazilians might wish to pur- 
sue. In fact, the U.S. negotiators were 
referring to the projects only to suggest 
the types of work the pact would cover— 
the broad project areas. 

"They were talking about different 
things, using the same word," recalls 
Feller. "So I shifted into Portuguese and 
explained it to the Brazilians, then 
explained it in English to the Ameri- 
cans": It was programa, not projetos, 
that the Americans meant. That slight 
alteration made a difference. Tensions 
dissipated and the negotiations then pro- 
ceeded amicably. 

Despite the happy conclusion to this 
story, Feller is no goody-two-shoes inter- 
nationalist. For him, an intimate under- 
standing of other languages and cultures 

' rH*£ . 


paid a price 
for linguistic 
Trade deficits 
now teach that 
lesson to 
Americans, too. 


doesn't so much serve world peace and 
brotherhood as it helps him do his job 
better. For one, "the other side can't 
hide behind the difficulty of translation." 
For another, "you can become empa- 
thetic, better understand where people 
are coming from. You flatter them, lower 
their guard, then throw them a curve 
ball." Feller's language skills are a tool— 
or even, to hear him tell it, a weapon— 
that give him the negotiating edge. 

Foreign language skills do indeed 
pay — for the job-seeker who can respond 
to the American Airlines ad recruiting 
bilingual flight attendants; for the student 
whose verbal skills, as measured by SAT 
scores, are apt to rise with study of a 
foreign language; for the sales executive 
better able to peddle wares abroad. Lan- 
guage learning, according to a brochure 
issued by the American Council on the 
Teaching of Foreign Languages, repre- 
sents "a sound investment for today . . . 
and tomorrow." 

And that hard-edged, practical mes- 
sage is apparently getting through: "Stu- 
dents see that their clothes are made in 
Taiwan and their cars are made in 
Japan," James Gardener, president of 
Lewis and Clark College in Portland, 
Ore., told The New York Times recently. 
"They've figured out where the world is 


Like most busy professors, 
Eduardo Gonzalez had let his 
reading pile build up, and so it 
wasn't until a day or two after the 
article appeared in the Baltimore Sun that 
he read it: "Let's NOT Push Language 
Study" was the headline. Want to learn 
about Japan or Russia? Well, said the op- 
ed piece by Reo Christenson, professor 
of political science at Miami University 
of Ohio, it's better to read books on Japa- 
nese or Russian history and culture than 
to study those languages. Exposing most 
students to language study was, he 
declared, "highly inefficient." 

There it was again — that no-nonsense 
strain in American thought. Indeed, 
while foreign language enrollments may 
be up, it's largely out of pragmatic con- 
siderations, not broad cultural ones. "I 
don't see a real change of attitudes," says 
Peter Lowenberg of Georgetown Univer- 
sity's department of linguistics. "The 
emphasis is not on integrating with the 
rest of the world, but on competing with 
the rest of the world, for practical rea- 

Objecting to the narrow, utilitarian 
tone of Christenson's piece, Gonzalez, 
associate professor of Italian and His- 
panic studies at Hopkins, was moved to 
write back— in English, a language he 
learned only after, at age 19, emigrating 
from Cuba in the wake of the Bay of Pigs 
invasion. About his reply, published a 
week later in the Sun, he said, "I wanted 

to defend the notion that language should 
address, and could alter, a person's intel- 
lectual make-up, could alter his sensibili- 
ties." There was more to learning a for- 
eign language, in other words, than mere 

Of course, liberal educators have long 
insisted that in some ineffable way, for- 
eign languages "enrich" or "broaden" 
those who master them. Even President 
Reagan has said as much, in a proclama- 
tion issued last year. Command of for- 
eign languages, he said, "opens up vast 
areas of knowledge and presents exciting 
opportunities to understand other cul- 
tures. To read classics like Dante's La 
Divina Commedia, Goethe's Faust, and 
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in the 
original is to gain an insight and appreci- 
ation that simply is not possible with 
even the best translations." 

By this broader, less utilitarian out- 
look, one learns a foreign language for 
reasons that go deeper than selling wid- 
gets to the world— to become more cul- 
turally sensitive, more intellectually 
sophisticated, more alive to complex 
global issues, and so on. The implica- 
tion? That the holder of such knowledge 
thereby absorbs, as Gonzalez put it in his 
rebuttal, the "values intrinsic to humane 
and civilized behavior." 

But is this just a higher pragmatism, 
where justification for language learning 
is seen to lie not so much in getting a 
better job but in fashioning oneself into a 
better person? In the service of self- 
improvement, language learning 
becomes a duty, like setting aside the 
summer for War and Peace. Is it not 
enough, one might ask, to speak and 
read a foreign tongue for the sheer plea- 
sure of doing so, like playing the piano? 

If utility were the only valid yardstick, 
after all, we'd sometimes be left better 
off— or at least less apprehensive— by not 
knowing a foreign language. Library of 
I Congress translation chief Deanna Ham- 
mond recalls how, on a tour of the Ama- 
zon, their group's boat broke down in 
crossing a river. "No problem," the 
guide reassured the group of Americans. 
"We'll have it fixed in a minute." But the 
moment before, Hammond had over- 
heard the guide turn to a priest and whis- 
per, in Spanish: "God only knows if 
we'll get back. Pray for us, Father." 

Robert Kanigel has struggled to learn 
French. The Baltimore-based author 
wrote about chaos theory last May for 
the Alumni Magazine Consortium. 


N I N 



From Foreign to Fluent: 

What Works? 

Children spend years learning their native tongue. 

So if you're trying to pick up a new language, be 

patient, relax, and let it flow over you. 

Oh, yes — and memorize. 

By Robert Kanigel 

In French, she never swore, never so 
much as a merde. And when she vis- 
its friends and family in France, she 
still doesn't. Yet in English, her sec- 
ond language, she will occasionally 
resort to an obscenity. "It doesn't mean 
anything to me," she explains. "I know 
it's a swear word, but I have none of the 
emotions that go with it." 

Her name is Brigitte Michel-Heath, 
and she is a native of France. She has 
lived in Baltimore for 16 years, holds 
degrees from a top American liberal arts 
college and a big state university, has 
read more Herman Melville and Sinclair 
Lewis than most Americans, and can 
wield her accented English with as much 
finesse as you or I. 

Yet an unfamiliar accent, like that of 
the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore, or 
an unfamiliar expression, like "to case 
the joint," can throw her. And the way a 
slight change of preposition can make 
meaning abruptly change course— as in 
break down, break up, break in, break 
out— still drives her batty. 

For Michel-Heath, after almost two 
decades in America, English remains "a 
borrowed language. It will never be my 
mother tongue," she says. Every year or 
two, when she returns home, speaking 
French again is like taking up where she 
left off with a best friend. "You wouldn't 
believe," she says, "what sort of psychic 
vacation it is." To her, English is still 

work, though it is no longer, as it was for 
so many years, hard work. 

That's what many Americans don't 
understand about learning foreign lan- 
guages: You can't expect to learn much 
from a year or two of it in school. 

"The public doesn't know anything 
about foreign language learning," says 
Richard Brod, director of special projects 
with the Modern Language Association 
(MLA). " 'Fluent' is used so much in a 
sloppy, ignorant, and uninformed man- 
ner." Indeed, the perceived failure of a 
post-Sputnik federal program that intro- 
duced foreign languages into elementary 
classrooms has been chalked up to just 
such naive expectations. Says Michel- 
Heath, who has taught French in the 
United States, "American people tend to 
be so optimistic and unrealistic about 
learning a foreign language. They think, 
/ have a French teacher. I will learn by 
osmosis. They don't like to memorize." 

Back in the 1960s, amidst a rash of 
wild claims about how one could, in the 
words of a Sunday magazine article, 
"Learn a New Language in Five Days," 
language expert Mario Pei observed: "It 
is time to stop kidding ourselves about 
short cuts to full language ability." 
There's nothing wrong with knowing a 
few stock phrases, he agreed. But recog- 
nize that that's just a bare smattering. 
Real fluency means speaking, under- 
standing, writing, and reading the lan- 

guage pretty much as you would your 

Even accomplished learners will say 
that reaching that point is agonizingly 
difficult. In part, that's because of intel- 
lectual hurdles— obscure idioms, gram- 
matical Gordian knots, thousands of new 
words to learn. Think of the impenetra- 
bilities of English spelling, where the sh 
sound can arise from a dozen letter com- 
binations. But often the difficulty stems 
not so much from linguistic roadblocks 
as from the emotional obstacles erected 
by stepping into another language and 
culture. You feel confused, inadequate, 

An American auto worker greets 
her trainer as part of a joint GM- 
Toyota venture in Japan. 


One morning last summer, 19-year-old 
Lori Clow woke up in a strange bedroom 
in an unfamiliar house in the south of 
France. The day before, the Western 
Maryland College student, with the 12- 
year-old son of her French professor 
(Marie-Jo Arey) in tow, had landed in 
Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport, 
maneuvered herself and her charge 
through the buses and subways, and 
finally wound up on a train bound for 
Bordeaux. There she met the family with 
whom she was to stay for three weeks. 
The next morning, lying in bed, she at 
last had time to think. She was armed 
with little more than high school French 
and a year's worth in college, and down- 
stairs were five strangers, none of whom 
spoke English. "What am I doing here?" 
she asked herself. "I was scared. I knew 
I'd have to go downstairs and talk." 

William Durden, who teaches German 
at The Johns Hopkins University and 
directs its Center for the Advancement of 
Academically Talented Youth, was only 
a little older than Clow when, in 1971, 
he visited a German-speaking Swiss can- 
ton on a Fulbright scholarship. Durden 
already knew German, or thought he did. 
But the Swiss, he found, spoke a dialect 
almost unrecognizable to an ear tuned to 
stiff High German. His first day, he 
walked into a bakery and was instantly 
lost in a sea of alien sounds. "You get so 
nervous you tend to simply agree. Yes, 
yes, you say." By the time he left, he'd 
bought so much bread, pounds and 
pounds of it, that he had to lug it home 
before he could resume his shopping 

Nancy Rhodes, of the Center for 
Applied Linguistics in Washington, 

D.C., once asked the immigrants in her 
English conversation class whether they 
had ever, in talking to native Americans, 
indicated they understood something 
when they had not. All smiled sheepishly 
and agreed they had. In a foreign lan- 
guage, says Durden, "you're out of con- 
trol. And that's a terrifying feeling. Your 
mind is racing, but all you can do is 

Being lost in a foreign language strips 
away part of the personal identity you 
wear like your clothes. "You see it on 
their faces when they come in here," says 
Arlene Wergin about the foreign students 
and faculty members whom she advises 
at Hopkins. " 'What am I doing here?' 
their expressions say." For European stu- 
dents, who often know English, it's usu- 
ally not so bad. But for Hopkins's 80 or 
so Chinese students, many with poor 


I W SM W»fl#» .' ' !Jf." ' '. ' ' ^ 


Fear and confusion often 
come before comprehen- 
sion. But the best foreign 
language students just 
jump right in. 

Costumed as a waiter, Tom Deveny 
serves up a Spanish lesson at Western 
Maryland College (left). At Case West- 
ern Reserve University, a language 
laboratory offers practice in the audio- 
lingual method (above). 




English skills, "it's culture shock," says 
Wergin. "They're extremely reserved, 
visibly agitated. Or else quiet and with- 
drawn. They just want to say, 'Please 
help me. Where is my department? How 
do I buy food?' " 

The saga of immigrants who leave 
everything behind to start afresh in the 
New World occupies an honored place in 
American folklore. Often glossed over, 
however, is the stress they experience in 
living and working in a language not 
their own. 

Chan Wook Park, assistant professor 
of government at Franklin and Marshall 
College, was one such immigrant. The 
South Korean native had begun learning 
English at age 12. In high school, he had 
taken intensive English classes that 
sometimes met as often as 10 hours a 
week. In college, where he studied polit- 
ical science, some of his textbooks were 
photocopies of English versions. Still, 
when he came to the University of Iowa 
as a graduate student five years ago, it all 
counted for little. He could read Time or 
Newsweek, but he'd had little opportu- 
nity to speak English; his teachers could 
hardly speak it themselves. "I did not 
understand the instructors, and I could 
not make myself understood." He was 
touchy, sensitive, and found himself 
smoking too much. It was a terrible first 

"Grown man. Sound like child." That 
was how an eminent Japanese scholar 
once described to Arlene Wergin how he 
felt stumbling through English. Yet 
Wergin has found that it's often a false 
kindness to ease the way for foreign stu- 
dents and faculty by placing them in the 
company of their compatriots. "They'll 
live with other Chinese, or Indians, do 
their food shopping together. And in the 
long run it's no help." Yet she under- 
stands the appeal such an island of famil- 
iarity can hold. "When you have a 
choice," she says, "you choose the easy 
way out. It's just easier to hang out with 
your own." Even for Michel-Heath, the 
strain of keeping afloat in the English- 
speaking sea sometimes, over the years, 
became too great. "I've kept up relation- 
ships with people solely because they 
speak French," she confides, "because 
they are French." 

Mario Pei has written about Ameri- 
cans living abroad who mix only with 
other Americans, confine their reading to 
English and, even when talking to 
natives who understand no English, 
speak it anyway— only more slowly and 

more loudly. In the end, marvels Pei, 
they come away wondering why, even 
after years abroad, more of the language 
didn't rub off on them. "It would have 
been a miracle if it had," writes Pei. 

We may cluck at the arrogance and 
foolishness of those Americans. But the 
formidable forces to which they suc- 
cumbed are those with which language 
learners, at any level beyond the most 
elementary, must always contend. Con- 
fusion, exhaustion, and fear are the 
givens; successful language learners 
manage to deal with them. 

But they don't, for the most 
part, learn to cope with them 
in the classroom, which until 
recently made little room for 
the emotional realities of learning a for- 
eign language. 

Before World War II, there was scant 
emphasis on getting Americans actually 
to speak the languages they studied. The 
dominant approach was the grammar- 
translation method, with heavy emphasis 
on literature, language structure, and 
deciphering individual passages. You 
could go through a whole course and 
barely speak a word of the language. 

All that changed with the war, when 
the U.S. government established crash 
programs to teach Burmese, Japanese, 
German, and the other languages GIs 
needed to know. After the war, with 
America a global power, educators came 
to realize, says the MLA's Richard Brod, 
"that we could no longer teach foreign 
languages as if they were Latin, as if you 
were never going to speak to a French 

Along came the audio-lingual 
approach, inspired by the behaviorist 
theories of psychologist B.F Skinner. 
Learning a language, according to the 
new wisdom, was like learning to ride a 
bike; it required the formation of new 
habits. The teacher would drill students 
with key phrases, introduce variations, 
build up to complex dialogues. The 
emphasis was on developing speech pat- 
terns, not on the words themselves. 
Today, the enthusiasm inspired by that 
approach is viewed as naive. And yet, 
says Richard Lutz, a Georgetown Uni- 
versity linguist, he well recalls being in 
Paris during his junior year of college, 
wandering from cafe to cafe trying to 
find his way back to the hotel, parroting 
dialogues he'd learned in school— and 
marveling that, "strange as it seemed, 
people could understand me." 

The listen-then-speak approach ush- 
ered in the era of the language lab with 
its rows of reel-to-reel recorders and 
headsets; since then, new technologies 
have gone in and out of fashion. Today, 
commercial cassette tapes contain every- 
thing from phrase books to entire lan- 
guage learning courses. Some teachers 
tout video, with its ability to reveal ges- 
ture and expression as well as sound. 
Others, predictably, champion com- 
puters. And several colleges, like Bow- 
doin, use satellite dishes to beam in Rus- 
sian language programs from the Soviet 

While the audio-lingual approach 
reduced language learning to little more 
than stimulus-response, the linguistics 
revolution touched off by Noam 
Chomsky restored its complexity. For 
Chomsky, language was innate, the 


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■I * ' - 


human brain a language-constructing 
instrument. That a child could learn 
"Mommy" and "sock," then fashion 
them into some new linguistic entity, like 
"mommysock," meant, to Chomsky, 
that language was not just mechanically 
learned behavior; the child was doing 
something with, and to, the language. In 
arguing that the mind of the learner was 
no mere black box between input and 
output, Chomsky undermined the basis 
for the audio-lingual approach and trig- 
gered research leading to numerous 
insights about how people learn second 

Among the insights was confirmation 
that emotional factors, including anxiety 
and motivation, can indeed inhibit or 
enhance learning. You may have all the 
intellectual skills needed to absorb a lan- 
guage, but if your "affective filter" 
interferes, the intellect never gets its 

Another current notion is that if the 
student can simply listen and absorb at 
first, without having to spew back 
responses, she is apt to make better 
progress in the long run. Such a "silent 
period," which may range from a few 
weeks to several months, apparently aids 
comprehension, which ultimately bene- 
fits speaking ability. A young child natu- 
rally has that advantage. 

A third insight was that language 

In small shops, factories, 
and schools, immigrants 
to America have forged 
new lives. Stress is one 
price they pay as they 
struggle to stay afloat in 
an ocean of English. 

acquisition, which takes place through 
natural communication in realistic situa- 
tions, differs profoundly from directed 
language learning, which is preoccupied 
with grammar and other aspects of form. 
Presiding over this learning is a critical, 
analytically minded "monitor" (the term 
was coined by Stephen Krashen, a Uni- 
versity of Southern California expert in 
second languages). This monitor can 
actually inhibit the natural development 
of fluency. 

Much more has been learned in the 
three decades since publication of 
Chomsky's Syntactic Structures, but the 
language classroom has failed to make 
use of much of it, at least not to the 
extent of supplanting the audio-lingual 
method with any single, universally 
accepted, "best" approach. Rather, a 
multitude of approaches are in use today. 
A recent U.S. Department of Education 
survey listed no fewer than eight. For 
example, in the total physical response 
method, students act out commands 
issued by the teacher. The communica- 
tive approach takes emphasis off linguis- 
tic forms and puts it on real communica- 
tion with the listener. Then there are the 
direct method, the silent way, commu- 
nity-language learning, and something 
called "Suggestopedia," along with the 
old grammar-translation and audio- 
lingual standby s. 

Suggestopedia, developed by Bulgar- 
ian psychiatrist Georgi Lozanov, is one 
method aiming squarely at the emotional 
hurdles of learning a language. The 
teacher might read a dialogue while stu- 
dents sit back and listen as baroque 
music plays softly in the background. 
Apparently the method works well 
enough to impress even skeptical Ameri- 
can observers. Tom Deveny, chairman 
of foreign languages at Western Mary- 
land College, has introduced elements of 
the approach to his Spanish classes— 
with mixed success. Some students like 
it. Others fall asleep. 

For some years, Deveny has also 
employed a toned-down version of the 
method pioneered by Dartmouth profes- 
sor John Rassias, where a master teacher 
uses every trick of the actor's trade to 
shatter the emotional barriers of the stu- 
dent. Rassias first developed his method 
with Peace Corps recruits. Back when 
she was one of them, former Hopkins 
nurse Sally Benckart once watched him 
in action. "He was a very gentle man, 
but he'd bark rapid phrases at you two 
inches from your face, to make you 
respond before you could think." In a 
Rassias German class, the ghost of Faust 
might suddenly appear at the door and 
ask, in German, for sanctuary from the 
devil. In a Rassias French class, the 
teacher might crack an egg over the stu- 
dent's head; forever after, presumably, 
you know what oeuf means. 

Deveny reports being pleased with his 
modified Rassias classes. And studies by 
the Goethe Institute and others have 
found, as one University of Florida Ger- 
man professor writes, that Rassias vet- 
erans "are far more at ease in the lan- 
guage than traditionally taught students." 
On the other hand, most methods can 
point to successes. One study of the total 
physical response method, for example, 
found that it produced better listening 
comprehension of German in one-fifth 
the time of a regular college course. 
Even the old grammar-translation 
approach still has its champions, and a 
study years ago actually showed it could 
hold its own with other methods, at least 
over a long enough course of instruction. 

Research has failed to crown any one 
method as superior. Indeed, the lack of a 
solid research footing in language 
instruction led Hopkins last May to 
launch the National Foreign Language 
Center; one of its goals is to address that 
failing. In the Modern Language Jour- 
nal, center director Richard Lambert 


wrote of the "surprisingly weak tradition 
of empiricism in the search for what 
works and what does not work. In place 
of solidly grounded practice, we have 
wildly exaggerated claims." 

Douglas McNeal, a policy ana- 
lyst with the National Science 
Foundation's division of inter- 
national programs, declares 
unabashedly that when it comes to learn- 
ing languages, "some people have it and 
some don't," a sentiment shared by many 
in the foreign language community. But 
sheer language aptitude (of the sort mea- 
sured on standardized tests) and even 
raw intelligence apparently play only a 
small part in determining who will suc- 
ceed. Personal learning strategies, and 
personality itself, seem to be more 
important. When you ask Arlene 
Wergin, who has seen hundreds of for- 
eign students come through her office, to 
describe the good language learners 
among them, she replies unhesitatingly: 
"They are naturally gregarious and out- 
going. They enjoy interactions. They're 
not afraid to make fools of themselves. 
They are people who just barrel ahead." 

She could have been describing 

Twenty years ago, he was among an 
early group of Peace Corps volunteers to 
go to Korea to teach English. While still 
in the States, his group got five hours of 
language training every day. "We mem- 
orized little talks: 'Please help me. I 
don't speak Korean. But I want to 
learn.' " 

Except for its phonetic alphabet 
(whose standardization 500 years ago is 
still celebrated as a Korean national holi- 
day), the language is extremely difficult. 
As in Japanese, the relative status of 
speaker and listener governs the forms of 
speech. A GI learning Korean in the bars 
of Seoul might use one of the two lower 
forms. In the Peace Corps, they learned 
only the upper two. 

So after three months, though finishing 
near the top of his class, McNeal still had 
only a 1 + rating on the Foreign Service 
Institute's 0-to-5 scale, where repre- 
sents total ignorance, and 5 means you 
could be taken for an educated native 
speaker. Still, as he describes his profi- 
ciency at the time, "You don't know 
much, but you know enough. You can 
speak all day and all night." 

And that, apparently, is what he did on 
arriving in Korea. For two years he lived 
with a Korean family in a small town. 

The family had five children, "so I could 
pick it up at any level." After another 
year based in Seoul, he left the Peace 
Corps at the 3-level. Entering training to 
become an interpreter, he was soon at the 
coveted 4-level, lacking only a native 
accent and a native's rootedness in 
Korean culture. 

At age 28, McNeal began learning 
Japanese. Seven years later, he took on 
Chinese. Though he ranks it as easier 
than Korean, he found it "as hard, at 35, 
as Korean was at 22." Now, in his early 
40s, he says, smiling, "I'm an old man. 
I'm not going to learn any more of these 
hard languages." But along the way, he's 
learned something about how to learn 
languages. And here's some of his 

• "What you need to leam most is all 
around you. It's best just to ask." It might 
take 10 encounters with a word before it 
sinks in. But you're apt to pick up every- 
day words the first time — because they 
are useful. His rule of thumb? "If it's not 
bumping up against me, it's probably not 
very important." 

• The worst way to understand what's 
being said is to try to grasp hold of every 
word as it hurtles past you. Doesn't 
work, he says. As soon as you hit the 
first unfamiliar phrase, you start to go 
under. So just let the words "flow over 

• Cultivate "a tolerance for ambiguity." 

Using a new language means living amid 
perpetual uncertainty, never quite know- 
ing what's going on. "You have to be 
willing to relax and absorb the larger 

• Go easy on yourself. You may have all 
manner of verbal nuances available to 
you in English. But you must accept that 
you can't express them yet in your new 
language. Imagine a funnel: Your 
thoughts fill the wide end but, to get out, 
must pass through the constricted neck, 
which represents what you're able to 
express. So look for simple ways to con- 
vey complex notions. You think, "Had I 
learned mechanical drawing ..." You 
say instead, "If I could draw ..." 

McNeal's is just one person's experi- 
ence. Yet the lessons he draws from it 
seem to mesh with those of others who 
have successfully piloted through the 
thick fogs of an alien milieu. Indeed, for 
all the disagreement about how best to 
teach foreign languages, shift the focus 
to how people learn them and you find 
the same few principles cropping up 
again and again, often reflecting an emo- 
tional wisdom rather than intellectual 

The foremost lesson is to interact with 
the language. You don't leam a language 
passively; you have to go out to it. Kids 
in the Netherlands who routinely hear 
German TV do not learn German, notes 
Georgetown's Richard Lutz. Spend a few 

Travelers marvel at how 
easily a foreign child 
masters a difficult dia- 
lect. But from birth, a 
child is surrounded by a 
language's sounds. 


months in Europe and will you pick up 
the language? Maybe yes, maybe no. "It 
takes courage and a spirit of adventure to 
enter the marketplace, mingle with the 
natives, listen to them, mimic them, ulti- 
mately speak with them," Mario Pei has 
written. Not everyone can do it. 

Few other academic disciplines 
demand such a casting away of inhibi- 
tions. In most other areas of learning, 
students are well advised to think out 
beforehand what the answer is and then, 
when sure, supply it. Math, science, his- 
tory, literature— all profit from careful, 
reasoned thought rather than stabs in the 

But that's just the wrong way to learn a 
language. Former Baltimore Sun foreign 
correspondent Arnold Isaacs tells of once 
asking the archbishop of Guatemala 
City, at a press conference following his 
release by kidnappers, whether he was 
casado after his ordeal. Wrong. He 
meant cansado, "tired." Instead, he had 
asked the archbishop whether he was 
married, inspiring a flurry of laughs. 
"You're guessing all the time," says 
Nancy Rhodes. The student of language 
who tries to learn without erring won't. 
Making mistakes, lots of them, is essen- 
tial. So is laughing them off. 

Even well into the learning of a lan- 
guage, tolerance for one's own limits 
helps. Hopkins's William Durden notes 
that on returning to Germany after a long 

time away, it takes him four weeks to 
regain his fluency. In the meantime, 
"You have to cut off forms of conversa- 
tion you'd normally use," until the old 
fluidity, the old instincts, are back. 

Students new to a language, observes 
Case Western Reserve University's 
Sharon Scinicariello, will often try to lis- 
ten for every word. Instead, go for the 
gist, the director of foreign language 
studies advises. A TV newscast offers 
good practice, because behind the clutter 
of words in each story is some irreduc- 
ible essence. Stephen Krashen at South- 
ern California has concluded that empha- 
sis on meaning— what is the other person 
really getting aft— is a better conduit to 
language mastery than are the words 

As for vocabulary, says Douglas 
McNeal, you do have to master a basic 
core. But what of the many specialized 
vocabularies, like those of electronics or 
law? "You can't learn all the segments 
simultaneously," he says. "So you have 
to choose." 

Despite a doctorate in Thai and 
grounding in French, Hindi, and San- 
skrit, Georgetown University language 
expert Ralph Fasold does not rate him- 
self a good learner of spoken language. 
Getting in the way, he feels, is his ten- 
dency toward perfectionism. "I hate to 
sound like a kid, stumbling around in a 
foreign language," he says. And yet, 

anecdote and research agree, it's kids 
who actually learn languages best. 

A child raised on, say, Hindi and 
English, can usually slip effortlessly 
between the two. In fact, the evidence 
seems to suggest that achieving a native's 
pronunciation demands learning the lan- 
guage before adolescence. "You've got 
to learn to roll your r 's before the age of 
10 or you're not going to learn it," notes 
one language authority. 

The extraordinary language skills of 
children have been variously attributed 
to their more plastic brains, less domi- 
nated by one hemisphere or the other; to 
"ego permeability" that permits lan- 
guage to reach them more readily; to 
freedom from adult inhibitions. Another 
factor, suggests Krashen, is that children 
and adults inhabit different language 
environments; in speaking to kids, we 
use simpler words and stick closer to 
here-and-now specifics. Both factors 
make comprehension easier. 

And yet, seen another way, there may 
be nothing so extraordinary at all about 
the linguistic ability of children. After 
all, they begin absorbing language the 
day they are born. As Case Reserve's 
Scinicariello notes, "They're in it as 
long as they're awake." The five-year- 
old Parisian kid who speaks perfect 
French? Why, he's already spent perhaps 
18,000 hours in the intimate company of 
the French language, points out Eleanor 
Jorden of the Hopkins language center. 
All that time, he's been bathed in its 
sounds, its grammar, its idioms. That's 
"total immersion" with a vengeance. 

The MLA's Richard Brod notes that 
even five years of a total immersion 
class— say for six hours a day, five days 
a week— would grant far less exposure to 
the language over the same time. How, 
he asks, can we expect anything from a 
three-credit college language course that 
might add up to 100 classroom hours in a 
year? Should we be surprised that Ameri- 
cans can speak and understand so little 
when they squeeze French class between 
band practice, physics lab, and gym? 
No, he and others insist, the even-the- 
five-year-olds-can-speak-it argument, 
far from proving how easy language 
learning ought to be, suggests how hard 
it really is. 

In "contact time"— that is, the hours 
spent actually learning the language- 
Georgetown's Lutz sees "all the vari- 
ables start tying together" to explain the 
range of successes and failures in lan- 
guage learning. In other words, put in 


enough time and, method-schmethod, 
you'll learn. 

One roadblock to learning a language, 
after all, is vocabulary. Learn all the 
grammar, verb endings, and linguistic 
patterns you like, but without words, you 
can't communicate. A cultivated speaker 
can know 30,000 words. And the only 
way to learn them is ... to learn them. 
"It takes lots of memorizing," says the 
Library of Congress's Deanna Ham- 
mond. Studying Spanish in college, she 
spent hour after hour in the language lab. 
When she tackled German, picking up 
credit for two years of course work in 
eight weeks, she was in class for eight 
hours a day. Then she'd go home and 
memorize 100 words a night. 

William Durden remembers going out 
of his way to talk to Swiss shopkeepers, 
timing his visits to avoid the busiest 
shopping hours so they'd have the 
patience for his fumbling. Any depar- 
tures he noted from his schoolbook Ger- 
man he would record in his notebook. 
"You have to take a deliberate 
approach," he says. "The time will come 
when one morning you wake up and you 
can have a conversation without thinking 
about it. But that moment doesn't come 
from just speaking the language. It 
comes from studying it." 

And it comes from wanting to learn it; 
motivation counts. Georgetown's Ralph 
Fasold tells of a town in Austria- 
bilingual in German and Hungarian for 
100 years— where Hungarian today 
shows signs of dying out. In recent 
years, it seems, Hungarian has become 
associated with peasant life, German 
with progress. "I'm not a farmer who 
picks potatoes and shovels cow crap" is 
how Fasold interprets the language deci- 
sions the townspeople are making. Simi- 
lar forces, he reports, have replaced 
Gaelic with English in a much-studied 
Scottish fishing community, and have 
kept New Yorkers from learning Puerto 
Rican Spanish. 

But while it helps to be motivated and 
to work hard, the inescapable truth is 
that, no matter how hard you work at 
learning a foreign language and penetrat- 
ing a foreign culture, you never really 
get there. Even in one's mother tongue 
that's true. We can't know the language 
of ballet and the jargon of immunology 
and the special slang of the underworld. 
Nor can we all be poets or gifted public 
speakers. In a foreign language, much 
more remains out of reach. 
When she first came to the Library of 

Congress, Deanna Hammond found it 
humbling that, after years of studying 
Spanish and living in Mexico, Colom- 
bia, and Ecuador, she could not express 
basic legal terms in Spanish. After three 
and a half years outside the U.S., her 
English also had holes in it. "What in 
hell is a 'hang-up?' " she remembers 
thinking. "What's a 'flip-top can?' " 

Beyond the specialized and shifting 
vocabularies of a second language, what 
makes learning it a lifetime's work is that 
the words themselves become hopelessly 
enmeshed in culture. Once, "culture" 
meant art, literature, music. Today, 
within the language teaching commu- 
nity, it encompasses what one U.S. 
Department of Education report terms 
the "sociolinguistic factors influencing 
what is proper to say to whom, under 
what circumstances, with which emo- 
tional overtones, and with what nonver- 
bal behavior." 

Japan presents particular obstacles to 
Americans, notes Eleanor Jorden, the 
originator of methods for teaching Japa- 
nese that include a strong cultural com- 
ponent. In Japanese, a simple question 
like "Have you had lunch?" requires 
knowing the position, status, and gender 
of all parties listening. An American 
boss solicited for advice on something 
you've written, Jorden notes, "might 
reply, T hear what you're saying, but I 
disagree with you.'" In Japanese, that 
comment would earn scorn for its boor- 
ishness. More appropriate would be a 
meandering linguistic peregrination from 
the boss that culminates in something 
like "While others might well write it in 
just the way you have, I might conceiv- 
ably write it this way." The Japanese 
employee gets the message: He'd better 
change his version. Such are the cultural 
roadblocks that non-natives encounter 
again and again. Hammond, all through 
her travels in South America, found it 
was never enough to be grammatically 
and syntactically correct; how you 
express joy, or offer condolences, or rec- 
ognize sarcasm depends on the particular 
culture. Says Hammond, "All the things 
I thought were true everywhere, I found, 
were not." 

Tourists encounter culture shock, of 
course, within moments of arriving in a 
foreign country. But some scholars have 
identified a "second wave" of culture 
shock, where an already accomplished 
user of the language begins to run up 
against false turns and roadblocks not 
evident at first. The result, write William 

R. Acton and Judith Walker de Felix in 
Culture Bound, is a kind of '"permanent 
immigrant' state, where one is always 
able to understand the words but is never 
completely capable of comprehending all 
of their connotations." 

This higher, cultural plane, as George- 
town's Peter Lowenberg notes, may 
offer "one of the best buffers against eth- 
nocentrism- and chauvinistic myopia." 
But it is also the final, and almost insur- 
mountable, barrier to learning a foreign 
language. This is the nether world, 
beyond words, where the gesture of 
touching the tips of one's index finger to 
the thumb, which in the United States 
means "okay" or "good going," in Bra- 
zil becomes obscene. Where to translate 
the Soviet U.N. delegate's speech may 
require appreciation of Russian proverbs 
and nursery rhymes. Where the easygo- 
ing American "How are you?" must not 
be taken as an invitation to recite your 
most intimate feelings. This is the cul- 
tural chasm that remains even once the 
purely linguistic one has been bridged. 

When political scientist Chan 
Wook Park first taught 
classes at Iowa five years 
ago, some of his students 
complained about his thick, Korean- 
accented pronunciation. Among other 
problems, he couldn't distinguish the 
long e from the short, and mentioning an 
"evaluation sheet" was apt to provoke 
titters from the class. 

But after two semesters, and help from 
American friends, Park's English 
improved. A turning point came when he 
had to deliver a formal, hour-long lecture 
to an auditorium packed with 500 peo- 
ple. He prepared for it carefully. "My 
colleagues praised my performance," he 

Today Park speaks clearly and writes 
well. The word order of English, which 
once seemed bizarre to him, now is 
largely a solved problem, and he has a 
good position teaching at F&M. 

And yet, he admits, "I still have diffi- 
culties." One is slang. Another is Johnny 

He listens intently as the star of the 
Tonight Show steps through the curtain 
and begins his opening monologue. Car- 
son's sly throwaway lines provoke 
uproarious laughter from the studio audi- 
ence and in millions of homes across 
America. Park listens to every word, 
understands every word. And never 






In an imperfect art, they search for 
the spirit of a literary work. 

The tourist in the town market 
flips through a pocket dictionary, 
trying to find the words that will 
allow her to buy lunch. The stu- 
dent abroad struggles with unfamiliar 
syntax, painfully forming what to him 
seem like backward sentences. The dip- 
lomat tries to untangle the subtleties of 
culture and social status. But beyond all 
these on the linguistic scale is the literary 
translator, who must transform novels 
and poems, essays and folktales, into 
foreign languages, preserving their 
unique qualities — style, imagery, humor, 

Doing the job perfectly, translators 
admit, is impossible; yet doing it well is 
essential. Antiquated, or just plain bad, 
translations can be blamed for turning 
readers off everything from Homer to 
Proust. But the pleasure of reading is not 

By Julia Ridgely 

all that's lost through inferior translation. 
Foreign literature is being used increas- 
ingly as a way to help fill Americans' 
need to understand other cultures, partic- 
ularly non-European ones. 

Literature in the college curriculum 
"used to be limited to the European 
scene, especially British and American," 
says P. K. Saha, head of the graduate 
English studies program at Case Western 
Reserve University (CWRU). "More 
and more, given the kind of world we 
face today, a lot of serious scholars are 
saying we need to broaden our hori- 
zons," he says. Saha teaches his own 
translations of Bengali poetry as part of a 
course in non-Western literature. 

The responsibility given to translators 
is enormous, and the frustration can be, 
too, considering that the result will sel- 
dom satisfy the translator or the reader. 

No matter how good the translation, it's 
just not the same, as readers are some- 
times told rather haughtily by foreign- 
language-speaking friends. "It's carrying 
a cross," says Mark Harman, assistant 
professor of German at Franklin and 
Marshall College (F&M). "It's not the 
fault of translators that things get lost; 
it's the whole sociocultural context." 
Foreign literature "gets read with com- 
pletely different suppositions. We're 
aware it's an imperfect art," he says. 

Embarking on a translation means, 
first and most obviously, having a strong 
sense of a work's basic meaning— one 
that fits the author's, not the translator's, 
intentions. Peter Salm, professor emeri- 
tus of German at CWRU, translated 
Goethe's Faust for Bantam Books; he 
says that a translation "should not expli- 
cate, but it certainly must interpret. You 

350 years of the Iliad in English 

Dozens of distinguished translators have tried their hand at Homer's 
epic. On this and the next page are the opening lines of versions of 
the Greek poem written some 2,800 years ago. 

Achilles' baneful! wrath resound, O Goddesse, that imposd 
Infinite sorrowes on the Greekes, and many brave soules losd 
From breasts Heroique— sent them farre, to that invisible cave 
That no light comforts; and their lims to dogs and vultures gave. 
George Chapman, 1598 

O Goddess sing what woe the discontent 
Of Thetis Son brought to the Greeks; what souls 
Of Heroes down to Erebus it sent, 
Leaving their Bodies unto Dogs and Fowls . . . 
Thomas Hobbes, 1677 

Achilles ' wrath, to Greece the direful spring 
Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly Goddess, sing! 
That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign 
The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain: 
Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore, 
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore . . . 
Alexander Pope, 1715 



have to come up with one interpretation, 
and then you're stuck with it. In class, a 
teacher can say, 'It could be this or that,' 
but not a translator." 

Many translators begin with a basic, 
word-for-word version, then revise for 
subtlety of meaning, style, and rhythm. 
Harman, who has translated stories by 
the contemporary Swiss writer Robert 
Walser, says his first step in translating is 
to read aloud the original: "When I'm 
done, I read my English version aloud. I 
tend to begin with a more literal version 
and move away from it." The process 
involves compromise between the author 
and the translator. Literal meaning may 
be sacrificed to preserve the rhythm of a 
sentence, or a joke substituted for an 
untranslatable pun. "If it's a poem for 
teaching purposes, then I may do as pro- 
saic a translation as possible," says Sarah 
White, associate professor of French and 
Italian at F&M. She works with both 
modem and Old French. "But if it's a 
poem for publication, then I just wing it. 
I try to think of English phrases, not 
words, that do as much as they can. You 
assume you're going to lose something." 

Allegiance, where possible, goes to 
the author. "If the author has picked that 
German word because he wants to draw 
on two or three of the possibilities, I try 
to find an English word that's not flat," 
says F&M's Harman. "With a great 
author who really cares a lot about lan- 
guage, words work on a couple of levels, 
and the translator has to try to capture 
this, even though the reader won't neces- 
sarily notice." 

In spite of such pains, some things will 
always be beyond translation. Last 
semester. White taught a fiction class 
that included a recent Robbe-Grillet 
novel. Its title— Jalousie— means jeal- 
ousy in French, but is also "a play on 
those wooden shutters that we used to 
call jalousies," she says. Thus Robbe- 

Grillet can use the shutters as a symbol 
for feelings of jealousy. French readers 
pick up on the double meaning; English 
readers never can. In this case, White 
says, there was no solution but to tip off 
her students in advance. 

In light of such a complex process, the 
reader's question, "How close is it to the 
original?" may not be as appropriate as, 
"Is the experience of reading this in 
translation like that of reading the origi- 
nal?" A time-honored technique for 
enhancing the experience is using the 
language and idioms of the reader. "A 
prime example was Homer," says J.M. 
Hunt. "Alexander Pope's translation 
[first issued in 1715] was titanically pop- 
ular. He sold subscriptions, which made 
him fantastically wealthy." But Pope's 
heroic couplets were far from Homer's 
language and modern taste. "Homer's 
Greek is simple and light and fast- 
moving," says Hunt, associate professor 
of classical studies at Villanova Univer- 
sity. "Pope's style is much more formal. 
In order to get those rhymes, he has to 
pad and add ideas and phrases that are 
not in the original." 

"It's a matter of the period and the 
personality of the translator, whether he 
wishes to go back to the English of the 
time the work was written, or use mod- 
ern English," says Peter Salm, who 
undertook his Faust translation in 1962 
in part because he felt that many existing 
translations were outdated. "I was more 
intent on faithfulness and on a kind of 
modern or neutral English that was not 
specific to time." Yet when the publisher 
asked permission in 1985 to reprint 
Faust, Salm agreed only on condition he 
be allowed to revise it. "After 20 years, 
it was a different experience," he says. 

Some translations, such as Pope's 
Homer, Robert Fitzgerald's Omar 
Khayyam, or even the King James Bible, 
have an artistic value that overcomes age 

and inaccuracy. Others degenerate 
quickly, transformed by time into some- 
thing comic or just dull. "Somebody like 
Thomas Mann has aged very badly," 
says Hunt. "It's partly the fault of the 
translator; [H.T. Lowe-Porter] is just too 
Victorian. Mann was more ironic, and 
all the flowery phrases he used were 
meant ironically." 

Over the years, literary criticism has 
offered many theories of translation. One 
school, exemplified by Vladimir Nabo- 
kov, calls for translations to be as literal 
as possible. But literalness may not be 
enough if the objective of translation is 
partly to make sense of an alien culture. 

In the 1950s, P. K. Saha coined the 
term "transcreation" to describe the 
rebuilding of a work in a foreign lan- 
guage, including, if necessary, the crea- 
tion of new words. Saha still feels that 
such a transformation is necessary for 
Western readers to appreciate writers like 
the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet, 
Rabindranath Tagore, whose works Saha 
has translated. The theory of transcrea- 
tion, Saha says, "involves the question, 
What would the writer have done if he 
had written in the new language?" 

Saha believes that Tagore 's reputation 
in the West has been damaged by overli- 
teral translation. But even transcreations 
alone are insufficient, he adds: "There is 
no such thing as an absolute translation. 
Anything that enhances it or enables 
readers, whoever they may be, to get as 
close as possible to the spirit of the origi- 
nal, I approve of that." 

A translation, he says, "is like a math 
problem that you keep working on. It's 
an ongoing business. I like to quote 
Heraclitus, who said we never step into 
the same river twice. I replace 'river' 
with 'text.'" 

Julia Ridgely is assistant editor of the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium. 

Achilles sing, O Goddess! Peleus' son; 
His wrath pernicious, who ten thousand woes 
Caused to Achaia's host, sent many a soul 
Illustrious into Ades premature, 
And Heroes gave (so stood the will of Jove) 
To dogs and to all ravening fowls of prey . . . 
William Cowper, 1791 

Sing, Muse! Pelides' wrath, whence woes on woes 
O'er the Achaeans' gather'd host arose, 
Her chiefs' brave souls untimely hurl'd from day, 
And left their limbs to dogs and birds a prey . . . 
William Sotheby, 1834 

Muse, ofPelidean Achilles sing the resentment 
Ruinous, who brought down many thousand griefs on Achaians, 
And untimely banish 'd many souls to the mansion of Hades 
Of warriors puissant, them making a booty for hounds and 
All manner of prey birds . . . 
C. B. Cayley, 1877 

The Wrath of Achilles is my theme, that fatal wrath which, in fulfill- 
ment of the will of Zeus, brought so much suffering and sent the 
gallant souls of many noblemen to Hades, leaving their bodies as car- 
rion for the dogs and passing birds. 
E. V. Rieu, © Penguin Books 1951 


Bit by Byte 

by Brick 

by Wire: 

Putting It 




effort to 


the campus 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

Photos by 
Michael Carroll 

The year was 1959, 
just two years after 
the launches of the 
Soviet satellites Sput- 
nik I and II. Since then, the 
Soviets had put a pair of mon- 
keys in space and sent a 
rocket to the moon. A syn- 
thetic diamond was being cre- 
ated in South Africa, and the 
United States was about to 
launch the first nuclear- 
powered merchant ship. 

That same year, a device 
the size of today's large copy- 
ing machine was delivered to 
WPI's Stratton Hall. The ma- 
chine, an IBM 610 Auto- 
Point Computer, had 80 stor- 
age registers, a console with a 
video display for entering in- 
structions, and paper tape 
readers and punchers for in- 
put and output. It could multi- 
ply two 31 -digit numbers in 
3/4 of a second and print the 
result at 1 8 characters per sec- 
ond on an electric typewriter. 

Compared with today's cy- 
bernetic powerhouses, the 
610 was a mental midget. But 
it marked the beginning of the 
era of the digital computer at 
WPI, three decades that have 
taken the campus, and the 
world, through the wonders 
of high-speed data process- 
ing, timesharing, micropro- 
cessors, personal computers 
(PCs), supercomputers, and 
artificial intelligence (AI). 

Today, WPI stands at the 
threshold of a new computer 
age. Already, the college is 
talcing advantage of a host of 
new productivity-enhancing 
tools for financial record 
keeping, data base manage- 
ment, word processing, and 
communications . 

And, in less than a year, an 
army of PCs, terminals, 
graphics work stations, mini- 
computers, and mainframes 
will be linked by a modern, 
high-speed campus data net- 



David Cyganski '75, WPI's chief information officer, over- 
sees all of the Institute 's computer-related support serv- 
ices, from its mainframes to its 800 personal computers. 

work. Then, in 1990, WPI's 
diverse computer and infor- 
mation science entities will be 
brought together in the new 
Fuller Laboratories. 

"It's a great leap of faith," 
says President Jon C. Strauss. 
"We're making a major bet 
that technology can and 
should play a much larger 
role at WPI in the future than 
it does presently." 

Strauss adds that as a tech- 
nological university, WPI is 
"really in the information 
business, as both a developer 
and a disseminator of infor- 
mation. Therefore, we must 
make a major investment in 
technology now, even though 
we can't at this moment pre- 
dict exactly where the 
progress will lie or how it will 
manifest itself. We must 
make a commitment to an ap- 
proach and make it work." 

That approach, quite sim- 
ply, is to place as much of the 
power of modern computing 

at the fingertips of as many 
members of the WPI commu- 
nity—students, faculty mem- 
bers, and administrators— as 
possible, and to do so as soon 
as possible. 

"The goal is to get our fac- 
ulty and staff to use produc- 
tivity tools where it makes the 
most sense," Strauss says. In 
order for faculty and students 
to make the best use of these 
tools, he adds, "we must 
make certain we provide 
computer resources to those 
people who need them, as 
well as appropriate training 
and support to help them use 
those resources effectively." 

Toward these ends, WPI 
will spend nearly $14 million 
before the end of the decade 
in a major effort to computer- 
ize the campus, and has made 
enhancing the college's com- 
puter and information science 
facilities a major component 
in the current $52.5 million 
Campaign for Excellence. 

lOmputerizing the 
'campus is not a new 
idea," says David 
Cyganski '75, asso- 
ciate professor of electrical 
engineering, who in 1987 
became WPI's first chief 
information officer. Cy- 
ganski 's responsibilities in- 
clude overseeing all of WPI's 
computer-related support 
services, which range from 
servicing personal computers 
to running the college's large 
mainframes. "Computeriza- 
tion really began with the col- 
lege's first computers," he 

After the IBM 610 was re- 
tired in 1965, WPI acquired a 
newer, more powerful com- 
puter, the IBM 1620, which 
could be programmed in four 
computer languages and 
could accept instructions and 
data keyed onto punch cards. 

"Through the late '60s we 
had that one computer," Cy- 
ganski says. "Only a few fac- 
ulty members had the skills to 
use it. The Registrar's Office 
made the first administrative 
use of computers at WPI 
by electronically recording 
grades on the 1620." 

Integrating the digital com- 
puter into the educational, 
research, and administra- 
tive life of the campus pro- 
ceeded swiftly through the 
late 1960s. By the end of 
the decade, WPI had opened 
a new computing facility, the 
Worcester Area College 
Computation Center 
(WACCC), built in the base- 
ment of the Gordon Library 
with a $260,000 grant from 
the National Science Founda- 

WACCC 's mainframe com- 
puters at one time provided 
data processing support to the 
WPI community and to as 
many as 50 colleges and insti- 
tutions in the Northeast, 
though its work for other col- 
leges is much reduced today. 

Then, in the late 1970s, the 
personal computer appeared 
on the market, and the com- 
puter world, long dominated 

by powerful mainframe ma- 
chines, underwent a revolu- 

"Suddenly, we were in a 
very different computer envi- 
ronment," Cyganski says. 
"Now you could have your 
own computer on your desk. 
You could tailor it to do what- 
ever you wanted it to do- 
solve specific engineering 
problems, for example— or 
remind you of appointments. 
And they were inexpensive 
enough that anyone who had 
a real use for a computer 
could afford one." 

As PCs caught on, Cy- 
ganski says, WPI, like many 
other colleges of science and 
engineering, faced an impor- 
tant question: how best to in- 
troduce students to the power 
and utility of this essential 
technological tool. While 
some schools required stu- 
dents to purchase machines, 
WPI took a different ap- 

The college decided to 
make many machines avail- 
able for student use and to en- 
courage faculty members to 
integrate the personal com- 
puter into course and project 
work, with the hope that, 
through frequent exposure, 
students would come to see 
the computer as an essential 

"Too often," he claims, 
"the computer can become a 
machine which students use 
by rote. We wanted them to 
learn that it is an effective and 
general tool. You don't just 
use it when a teacher hands 
you a disk with a program for 
a particular course. You turn 
to the computer whenever it is 
the effective way of working 
on a problem. We decided to 
create an environment that 
immerses students in com- 
puters—and hope they get 
awfully 'wet' while they are 

To create that environment, 
WPI established the Office of 
Academic Computing (OAC) 
in 1983. The OAC, under the 
guidance of its first director, 

34 WINTER 1988 

Dean Owen W. Kennedy Jr. 
'45, and with a half million 
dollars in yearly support from 
WPI, began the process of ac- 
quiring AT&T personal com- 
puters, chosen, Cyganski 
says, because they provide 
the speed necessary for engi- 
neering and science applica- 

The bulk of the PCs are dis- 
tributed among several gene- 
ral access laboratories, where 
students can use them for 
class and project work. Other 
PCs are lent to faculty mem- 
bers for research and educa- 
tional applications and to aca- 
demic and administrative 
departments for a variety of 
office functions. 

Today, nearly 800 AT&T 
PCs populate the offices and 
laboratories of WPI. Of 
these, more than 180 reside in 
open labs, where they are 
available to all undergradu- 
ates. More than half of the 
faculty have PCs on their 
desks and in their laborato- 
ries, and many have pur- 
chased them for their homes 
as well. 

This strategy of making it 
easy for students, faculty, and 
staff members to find com- 
puters when they need them 
has worked well, Cyganski 
says. Students and faculty 
members here learned not 
only how to use computers, 
but why they are such valu- 
able tools. And, members of 
the college's staff have dis- 
covered how the PC can en- 
hance productivity. 

The process has also been 
aided by a $1.2-million grant 
from the George I. Alden 
Trust, $1 million of which 
will go toward the construc- 
tion of Fuller Labs and 
$200,000 of which has, over 
the last four years, helped 
faculty members use PCs to 
develop a host of innovative 
educational software. 

"We grew the college into 
computing," Cyganski says, 
"at a reduced cost to WPI and 
its students, and with, I think, 
a higher level of utilization." 

"We're trying to teach students how to 
think, not just how to program." 

While getting PCs into the 
hands of those who need them 
has been a big job for the 
OAC, it would have been a 
futile effort without the sup- 
port that the office also pro- 
vides. A fully equipped main- 
tenance shop, operated by 
David Veinotte, installs and 
services the hundreds of PCs 
owned by WPI. 

The OAC also makes avail- 
able a variety of copyright- 
free, public domain software 
and "shareware" packages, 
and provides training and as- 
sistance to anyone on campus 
who needs it. Donald Farley, 
supervisor of software opera- 
tions, handles several emer- 
gencies and dozens of routine 
software-related queries from 

students, faculty, and staff 
members each day. He also 
tutors between 100 and 200 
people each month in the 
OAC's computer classroom in 
Higgins Laboratories. Re- 
cently, the OAC began intro- 
ducing software written by 
Cyganski and other on-cam- 
pus programmers specifically 
for use by the WPI commu- 
nity. Two examples of this 
"WPIWare" will be distrib- 
uted soon to all undergradu- 
ates. One package is a calcu- 
lating program that can solve 
equations typed into it and the 
other translates numbers and 
equations into a variety of 

"Our role," he says, "is to 
make sure that people don't 

James J. Jackson Jr. heads the Computer Services Center. 
Its three "big" machines maintain student records, run the 
college 's accounting system, provide data processing, and 
store and process a wealth of other information. 

just have the machine, but 
that they learn how to operate 
it and understand it." 

So far, Cyganski says, the 
OAC has been successful at 
this job. Each year, more PCs 
find their way onto desktops, 
new student labs open to ac- 
commodate the growing need 
for computer time, and the 
burden on the center's train- 
ing and repair staff grows. 

While WPI's PC population 
continues to grow, Cyganski 
says he is more excited about 
another phenomenon, the 
growth of a middle ground 
between the college's PCs 
and its large, mainframe com- 

"Around campus, you will 
find groups of faculty mem- 
bers who need to have the ca- 
pabilities and functionality of 
a mainframe computer, but 
without the additional hard- 
ware and staff required to op- 
erate a mainframe. The mid- 
dle ground is populated by 
minicomputers, and we are 
seeing them used increasingly 
in research and education." 

Along with minicomputers, 
Cyganski says, WPI is seeing 
the growth of interest in work 
stations — small, powerful 
computers that have the pro- 
cessing muscle needed to 
solve complex engineering 
and scientific problems and 
to make arcane concepts visi- 
ble through high-resolution 

Cyganski says he hopes to 
see the services provided by 
the OAC expand to cover 
these larger machines. Al- 
ready, his operation is export- 
ing technical services to sup- 
port the Computer Science 
Department laboratories. 

"I am excited at the pros- 
pect of this experiment," Cy- 
ganski says, "because it's the 
first time we will provide a 
service like this to a depart- 
ment, yet the department will 
remain autonomous in the ap- 
plication of the service. There 
was a day and age when, if 
something was being run by a 
computer center, you lost 


Creating a "Time Machine" for the Scheduling Office 

Kathy Frawley, associate registrar and scheduler, and Andrew P. Ferreira '87. 
His scheduling program, running on the PC in the foreground, made a big 
dent in the time needed to schedule WPI's undergraduates. 

To many, the computer is some- 
thing of a time machine. By au- 
tomating labor-intensive, paper- 
and-pencil operations, it can reduce the 
time needed to do routine tasks, freeing 
up that time for more productive jobs. 

Last spring, WPI's Scheduling Office 
was in desperate need of such a time 
machine. For years, Dean John van Al- 
styne had drawn up class schedules for 
each of WPI's 2,500 undergraduate stu- 
dents with nothing more than pencil, pa- 
per, and an uncommon knack for 

When he retired from his post as dean 
of academic advising last year, this 
mammoth task fell to Kathy P. Frawley, 
WPI's new associate registrar and 

"We started out, as Dean van Alstyne 
did, working strictly on paper," Frawley 
says. "We augmented this approach with 
a simple spreadsheet computer program. 
But, either way, it was very time con- 
suming. The whole process took weeks." 

Unknown to Frawley, a white knight 
was about to come to the rescue. Having 
noticed the effort Frawley was expend- 

ing on scheduling, Andrew P. Ferreira 
'87 decided there had to be a better way. 

Ferreira, a mathematics major who 
works part time in the Computer Service 
Center, went home to his terminal on a 
Friday evening and began writing a pro- 
gram in a symbolic computer language 
known as MACLISP. 

"I came back on Monday with a pro- 
gram that would enable you to specify 
the courses a student wants to take and 
then let the computer construct every 
possible schedule that does not con- 
flict," Ferreira says. 

He notes that the program will con- 
struct as many as 500 possible schedules 
for each student, especially for students 
taking introductory courses, which often 
have many sections. 

These schedules are winnowed as the 
computer works to make sure all sec- 
tions of each course have about the same 
enrollment and attempts to schedule stu- 
dents for classes that meet at times that 
they prefer. 

The result of Ferreira 's effort was 
"phenomenal," Frawley says. "It took 
us a month working nonstop to get the 
scheduling done," she explains. "An- 
dy's program takes about five hours to 
run. That leaves three weeks free to fine- 
tune the schedule." 

So far, the program has been used 
twice to schedule the freshman class. 
Next fall, it will be used for the first 
time to schedule all WPI undergrad- 
uates. To this end, Ferreira says he is 
making some modifications, in particu- 
lar enabling the program to give seniors 
first shot at courses in their majors. 

Ferreira has also developed a program 
that manages the waiting lists during 
registration, and he will soon begin work 
on software that will help the scheduling 
office handle the task of assigning 
courses to classrooms. 

He says creating these programs has 
been a satisfying experience, one that 
has also changed his career outlook. 

"Before writing these programs," he 
says, "I was going to go right on to 
graduate school in mathematics and be- 
come a college professor. Now, I'm hav- 
ing second thoughts. I seem to fit in well 
with the people here. It will be a tough 


36 WINTER 1988 

control. As computers and 
software become friendly, so 
must the provision of service. 
In fact, if there is a key word 
describing the whole new or- 
ganization of computers at 
WPI, it is service." 

The first thing you no- 
tice when you enter 
the main hardware 
room of WPI's Com- 
puter Service Center (the suc- 
cessor to the WACCC) is the 
sound — a low, constant rum- 
ble of high technology in 
action. Everywhere, big disk 
drives spin, high-speed 
printers churn, and fans and 
air conditioners hum. This 
is the world of big com- 
puters, powerful, number- 
crunching mainframes that 
handle the "higher end" of 
the computer workload at 

James J. Jackson Jr., the 
center's director, remembers 
walking through the doors of 
this room the day it opened in 
the fall of 1967. It was a 
smaller operation then. One 
mainframe computer handled 

"It's a great leap of faith. We're mak- 
ing a major bet that technology can and 
should play a much larger role at WPI in 
the future than it does at the present." 

the computing load for WPI 
and many other Worcester- 
area colleges. 

Today, three big machines 
share this space. The vet- 
erans, a Digital Equipment 
Corporation DEC 20 and a 
Sperry Univac, have handled 
the college's academic and 
administrative jobs for more 
than a decade now. The new- 
comer is a DEC VAX 8700, 
one of the newest generation 
of general purpose computing 

The 8700 was purchased 
last year to handle the Insti- 
tute's administrative comput- 
ing duties, taking over this 
load from the aging Univac, 
Jackson says. But a new ma- 
chine is only half of the story. 

The VAX can operate sev- 
eral powerful new software 
packages that will replace 

Karen Lemone, acting department head, says Fuller Labs 
will allow the Computer Science Department to expand its 
teaching laboratories. 

software written by the pro- 
grammers and analysts of the 
center over the past two dec- 

"This is the first time 
we've written out a check to 
someone else for mainframe 
software," Jackson says. "All 
of our software for the last 20 
years has been written in- 
house. I think that speaks well 
of the staff here." 

Already operational are 
packages that handle WPI's 
accounting and personnel 
data bases and provide pow- 
erful word processing and 
other general office tools for 
the college community. This 
year, a new student record- 
keeping package and software 
that supports the management 
of the Alumni and University 
Relations Offices will be im- 

"We've taken a major step 
forward with these systems," 
Jackson says. "We've spent a 
lot of money to outfit our ad- 
ministration with the state of 
the art. This should make 
WPI a more attractive place 
to work." 

Much of the power of the 
new software lies in the flexi- 
bility with which users can 
add to and retrieve data stored 
in the computer, Jackson 
says. A so-called fourth gen- 
eration language known as 
Oracle will enable users to 
ask for information with sim- 
ple English commands, and 
get just what they need orga- 
nized in exactly the manner 
they want, Jackson says— 
"and they'll be able to do so 
without any knowledge of 
computer programming." 

For example, with the Stu- 
dent Information System run- 
ning on the 8700, a faculty 
adviser will be able to access 
a student's record or look at 

how the course schedule is 
shaping up. 

While users will find it eas- 
ier to retrieve data, they will 
also take a more active role in 
entering that data into the 
computer, cutting the existing 
data entry load of the center, 
Jackson notes. 

Computerization means 
different things to 
different people. To 
John Miller, vice 
president for physical plant, it 
means a busy construction 
program that began in the 
summer of 1987 and will con- 
tinue through the fall of 1989. 
"Last summer we installed 
about 1,000 linear feet of a 
bank of four-inch conduit 
through the heart of the cam- 
pus," Miller says, "anywhere 
from eight to 16 parallel 
tubes." He says these tubes 
are allocated for either tele- 
communications or high- 
voltage power distribution for 
the new Fuller Laboratories 
and the planned renovations 
of Higgins Laboratories and 
Alden Memorial Hall (addi- 
tional power is needed for a 
growing research program in 
Higgins and for the Humani- 
ties Department, which will 
move into Alden after the ren- 
ovation). The conduit will 
also provide a physical path 
for future phone and data net- 

This new network of con- 
duits, as well as an existing 
system of conduits and steam 
tunnels that runs along West 
Street and to many of the col- 
lege's residence halls, will ac- 
commodate the lines for a 
digital telephone system and 
fiberoptic cables. Through 
these cables will whisk infor- 
mation at the dizzying pace of 
10 million bits (about 850 
double-spaced pages of typed 
information) per second. 

The Ethernet computer net- 
work will be obtained from 
DEC and installed by Coghlin 
Electric Company of Worces- 
ter. The total cost of getting 
the network in place. Miller 


says, will be about S2.8 mil- 

To support the telephone 
system, the college will in- 
stall a new digital phone 
switch in a new switch room 
to be constructed in the power 
house adjacent to the Wash- 
bum Shops. In consultation 
with Francis S. Harvey '37, 
president of Harvey and 
Tracy Associates. Inc., struc- 
tural engineers, 1,000 square 
feet of new floor space will be 
provided above the existing 
switch gear room and will 
house the telephone switch- 
board and shops for techni- 
cians, in addition to the cen- 
tral switch itself. 

"In the major academic 
buildings, we will be con- 

structing satellite equipment 
rooms, or SERs," he says. 
"These will be small rooms 
containing the primary build- 
ing electronics, telephone, 
and data cable terminations — 
even video cable termina- 
tions. They'll be the primary 
electronic distribution points 
for the buildings." 

From the SERs will run a 
backbone of coaxial cable and 
telephone wire that will ter- 
minate at desk and workplace 
locations throughout the col- 
lege's academic and adminis- 
trative buildings — more than 
900 in all. At these locations 
will appear new faceplates 
with connections for high- 
speed data communications, 
computer terminals, and tele- 

phone equipment. 

"With the new network, 
we'll see a fundamental 
change in the way business 
gets done on this campus," 
says David Cyganski. "The 
most immediate boon will be 
in the area of casual commu- 
nications. We've always had 
electronic mail on our main- 
frame computers, but that 
was available only to those 
who had terminals. I think we 
will see a real blossoming of 
electronic mail. And I expect 
that not turning on your PC in 
the morning to get your mail 
will become as unacceptable 
as ignoring your mailbox." 

The network will also ac- 
complish the most fundamen- 
tal goal of the computeriza- 

tion of the WPI campus, he 
says: linking its diverse col- 
lection of computing ma- 
chines into a single entity. 

"We're seeing the creation 
of a pyramid of computers, 
each level of the pyramid 
having its own purpose. Half 
the trick is finding the level 
that's most appropriate for 
getting your problem solved 
efficiently. The 'elevator' be- 
tween the levels will be the 
network. The network will al- 
low anyone to tie his or her 
computer to virtually any 
other computer on campus." 

And, with software donated 
to WPI by Ronald Howard 
'77. president of Datability 
Software Systems, users will 
have what is known as trans- 

Lights, Cameras, Education! 

Just as computer technology has un- 
dergone profound changes over the 
last few decades, so has the technol- 
ogy of education. 

Audiovisual aids for education once 
consisted mainly of filmstrips and 16mm 
films. Today, computer-aided learning, 
videotapes, projection television, and 
interactive videodisk programs are all 
finding their way into classrooms and 
teaching laboratories. 

Helping provide faculty members at 
WPI with the resources they need to cre- 
ate and use modern instructional aids 
has, for two decades, been the province 
of the Instructional Media Center (IMC). 

The IMC was the brainchild of Ken- 
neth E. Scott '48, professor of mechan- 
ical engineering and director of instruc- 
tional television. Scott began by making 
videotapes for his own courses in the 
late 1960s and later offered this service 
to other faculty members. 

In time, his operation found a home 
in the basement of Higgins Labs, one 
that has grown from a single room to a 
suite of offices, video production facili- 
ties, a television classroom, and a vari- 
ety of modern graphic arts equipment. 

When the Fuller Laboratories building 
is completed in 1990, the IMC will have 
a permanent home there, along with the 
Computer Science Department, the 
Computer Service Center, the Office of 
Academic Computing, and a 400-seat 

auditorium with modern AV facilities, 
which the IMC will manage. 

In its new home, the IMC will con- 
tinue to perform its many services for 
the WPI community, including the pro- 
duction of slides and overhead transpar- 
encies, many made with a new computer 
graphics system, and operating a cam- 
pus-wide closed-circuit television sys- 
tem, which includes a community 
bulletin board. 

The bulletin board, which began about 
ten years ago as three-by-five cards re- 
volving on a motorized wheel before a 
black-and-white TV camera, is now run 
by a computerized, high-resolution char- 
acter generator. It is the most visible el- 
ement of the IMC's video services, 
which include the creation of educa- 
tional videotapes used by faculty mem- 
bers to augment their courses. 

With the implementation of the WPI 
Plan in the early 1970s, Scott's video 
production service was in great demand. 
In time, a library of nearly 2,000 tapes 
was accumulated, and Scott's staff cre- 
ated an AV room in Gordon Library 
where students could view them. 

While interest in making educational 
videos has waned, the computerization 
of the campus may spur the production 
of new tapes, since video is an excellent 
medium for instruction in computers and 
computer software, according to Doug- 
las G. Thompson '78, IMC engineer and 

supervisor and the center's key video 

"If there is one thing that I wish I 
could do, it is to get faculty members to 
come in and make more tapes," says 
Thompson. "Our tape library is rapidly 

Currently, the IMC distributes video- 
tapes for use in various off-campus ed- 
ucational programs, but it may even- 
tually expand into new areas. "In the 
future, I wouldn't be surprised if this 
were done by satellite," Scott says. 

With the installation of the new com- 
puter data network, the IMC may well 
give up one of its long-standing jobs: 
the VTN, or virtual terminal network, 
the campus' first data network, which it 
installed more than a decade ago and has 
maintained ever since. 

Scott and his crew ran the wires for 
the network, which connects 400 ter- 
minals and 60 fire and security alarms 
around campus, for just $18,000. 

"When you compare it with the cost 
of the new network," Scott says, "that 
was a real bargain." 


Douglas G. Thompson '78, instruc- 
tional media center supervisor, mans 
the controls white Kenneth E. Scott 
'48, director of instructional televi- 
sion, works on-camera to tape a 

38 WINTER 1988 

parent connectivity. Essen- 
tially, Cyganski says, this 
means that you may use your 
PC to talk to a mainframe, but 
it will appear that the main- 
frame is really an extension of 
the machine on your desk. 

The combination of trans- 
parent connectivity and high- 
speed communication, Cy- 
ganski notes, will make it 
easy to collaborate with other 
computer users on projects, to 
send and receive large 
amounts of data, to create 
documents at one location 
and print them at a remote lo- 
cation, and to talk to users all 
over campus and, through 
links to national and interna- 
tional computer networks, to 
users all over the world. 

"We decided to create an environment 
that immerses students in computers— 
and hope they get awfully 'wet' while 
they are here." 

Today, it consists only 
of floor plans and ar- 
chitect's drawings. 
But soon, ground will 
be broken for Fuller Labora- 
tories, WPI's new Informa- 
tion Sciences Building. Infor- 
mation is the key word in that 
title, Cyganski notes. 

"We have recognized that 
computer science— computers 
themselves, computer appli- 
cation services, and commu- 
nications, of both the com- 
puter data sort and the video 

and audio sort— are all part of 
information science. It is be- 
coming one very interactive 
group of activities. That 
building really stands as a 
symbol of the interrelated 
quality of all those activities." 

Ground will be broken in 
late spring for Fuller, the 
most ambitious phase of 
the physical component of 
WPI's computerization. With 
60,000 square feet of floor 
space distributed among three 
floors and two basements, 
Fuller will house the Com- 
puter Science Department, 
the Computer Service Center, 
the Office of Academic Com- 
puting, the Instructional Me- 
dia Center, a 400-seat audito- 
rium, and the hub of the new 
computer network. 

The largest tenant will be 
the Computer Science De- 
partment and its 12 faculty 
members, 171 undergradu- 
ates, 46 graduate students, 
and four staff members. The 
department now has offices 
and labs in both Atwater Kent 
Laboratories, which it shares 
with the Electrical Engineer- 
ing Department, and Wash- 
burn Shops. 

By consolidating its opera- 
tions under one roof, the de- 
partment, one of the first in 
the nation to receive accredi- 
tation, hopes to be able to 
achieve two of its main goals: 
to expand a curriculum based 
largely on laboratory work, 
and to create modern labora- 
tories dedicated to computer 
science research, according to 
Karen Lemone, acting depart- 
ment head. 

"A few years ago, we 
switched to teaching our 
courses in a lab environ- 
ment," Lemone says. "Rather 
than using the campus' main 
academic computer— the 
DEC 20— for all of our 

courses, we obtained special 
equipment from Digital 
Equipment Corporation to 
start VAX Labs, which we 
use for our introductory as- 
sembly language sequence 
and several other courses." 

For the students, she says, 
the VAX Labs create environ- 
ments where everyone in the 
room is working on common 
problems: "There is a lot of 
cooperation and reinforce- 
ment among the students. 
This is an effective way to 
learn computer science, and 
we hope to expand on this 
method with more labs in the 
new building. 

"We have designed our 
space in Fuller Labs com- 
pletely from the lab point of 
view," Lemone says. "But 
we've made an improvement 
in our current situation by 
having dedicated labs both for 
education and research. We 
have a strong artificial intelli- 
gence research group here, 
and we're especially looking 
forward to having labs and 
equipment dedicated to their 

The new equipment and 
space the department will ac- 
quire with the completion of 
Fuller Labs will make the job 
of teaching and research in 
computer science a bit easier. 
But it will not solve a major 
problem the department, and 
all users of computers at WPI 
face: the rapid changes taking 
place in computer technol- 

"You have to face the fact 
that every few years you have 
to upgrade computers in the 
same way you have to up- 
grade any other technology," 
Lemone says. "That's some- 
thing we have to work into 
our plans. But more impor- 
tant, our curriculum must be 
constantly changing because 
we want everything we teach 
to be state of the art." 

As technology moves on, 
Lemone says, the department 
must maintain a balance be- 
tween the fundamentals of 
computer science, including 


languages and language pro- 
cessing, and the constantly 
changing "hot topics," which 
now include robotics, artifi- 
cial intelligence, and com- 
puter-integrated manufactur- 

For example, the depart- 
ment has introduced a net- 
works course at the under- 
graduate level for next year. 
This is a course previously 
taught only at the graduate 
level. "And, we will soon of- 
fer a brand new introductory 
course that uses a much more 
advanced approach to com- 
puter science," she adds, 
"with less of an emphasis on 
programming and more of an 
emphasis on concepts. After 
all, we're trying to teach stu- 
dents how to think here, not 
just how to program. 

The smallest tenant in 
Fuller will be the Instruc- 
tional Media Center (IMC), 
which, under the direction of 
Kenneth E. Scott '48, pro- 
vides a variety of audiovisual 
and graphic arts services to 
the campus. Both Cyganski 
and Jon Strauss say they hope 
that having the college's com- 

"The time between when something is 
relevant and when it has absolutely 
nothing to do with the real world is 
down to about six years." 

puter resources and the IMC 
in one building will spur the 
combination of computers 
and video technology for the 
support of the Institute. 

"With luck," Strauss says, 
"proximity will promote ser- 
endipity, and we'll take a 
leading position in the use of 
new technologies in instruc- 

David Cyganski points 
out a pie chart in a 
recent issue of the 
magazine IEEE Spec- 
trum. The chart, he says, in- 
dicates that software and 
software-related items cur- 
rently account for about 5 
percent of the gross national 
product. That figure concerns 
Cyganski. "To me, that says 
something about the changing 
role of computers in our soci- 
ety," he says. "They are be- 

coming an essential compo- 
nent of business and of many 
other facets of modern life. 
For WPI, this means that, in 
addition to all the other funda- 
mentals we must teach stu- 
dents, we must add a new 
fundamental— that of the 

"Ultimately, for our sur- 
vival, let alone to accomplish 
our educational mission, we 
have to prepare our students 
for what they will find in in- 
dustry and at other institu- 
tions. Industry will adopt new 
technologies because of the 
efficiencies they make possi- 
ble. We would be remiss if 
we did not create the same en- 
vironment here that students 
will be working in when they 

But, that task becomes 
more difficult with each pass- 
ing year. Technological de- 

velopment accelerates in an 
exponential fashion, Cy- 
ganski says, and the farther 
along society moves on the 
technology curve, the faster 
technology changes. 

"It wasn't so hard to catch 
up when we were farther back 
on the curve," he says. "The 
Washburn Shops could have 
been 15 years behind and stu- 
dents would hardly have no- 
ticed. Now, the time between 
when something is relevant 
and when it has absolutely 
nothing to do with the real 
world is down to about six 
years, and the leeway is 
growing shorter and shorter." 

That shrinking window of 
relevance makes the steps the 
college is taking now toward 
computerization all the more 
important, Cyganski adds: 
"Think of this— the 8080 
semiconductor chip, on 
which the first PCs were 
based, was introduced 12 
years ago. Today the personal 
computer is one of the most 
important cogs in the wheels 
of American industry. Now, 
we're even farther up the 
technology curve." 

Computerizing the Classroom with the Alden Trust 


<<V V TTe are witnessing a major 
change in the evolution of 
the activities of man, 
wrote Edmund T Cranch, WPI's 12th 
president, in a 1984 request to the 
George I. Alden Trust for funds to en- 
hance the Institute's computing facilities 
and capabilities. 

In answer, the Alden Trust granted 
WPI $1.2 million, of which $1 million 
will help build Fuller Laboratories. The 
rest was reserved to help the faculty in- 
corporate the computer into the 

Most of the money has been used by 
faculty members to develop computer 
applications for courses in subjects rang- 
ing from communications engineering 
and differential equations to American 
urban history and financial management. 

So far, these applications have been 
used successfully in more than 20 
courses. With these programs, under- 

graduates are performing laboratory ex- 
periments in chemistry and electrical 
engineering, among other subjects; tack- 
ling exercises in physics, statistics, and 
economics; and receiving computer- 
aided instruction in such fields as elec- 
trical communications and linear 

Some who received Alden grants de- 
veloped "computerized homework" for 
students to take back to their own com- 
puters or to the many machines in open- 
access laboratories around campus. For 
example, James Demetry '58, professor 
of electrical engineering, devised soft- 
ware that enables students to learn the 
basics of electrical controls through 
solving individualized problems. 

Many of the faculty who took the time 
to write their own programs also evalu- 
ated "off-the-shelf" software developed 
for their subject areas, but discovered 
that these generic packages rarely of- 

fered them the flexibility necessary to 
tailor the software to their own teaching 

And, while these faculty members re- 
port that students do not always enjoy 
the computer-based exercises as much as 
more conventional approaches to teach- 
ing, they learn computer-taught con- 
cepts better and faster. 

While it is difficult to measure the 
benefits students and faculty have gained 
and will continue to gain from this 
"computerization of the classroom," the 
generosity of the Alden Trust is already 
producing some tangible rewards. For 
example, in 1986 four of the papers pub- 
lished in the Annual Conference Pro- 
ceedings of the American Society of 
Engineering Education were reports on 
courseware developed by WPI faculty 
members. All the programs were devel- 
oped with Alden grants. 


40 WINTER 1988 

Two decades 

after its founding, 

the Worcester Consortium for Higher Education 

continues to bear 

the stamp of 

Harry P. Storke, WPI's 10th president, 

whose vision helped to build 

this 24-member alliance. 

Making Company, 
Making Tracks 

By Jerome A. Parchois 

Quietly, with perhaps only a 
discreet round of handshakes 
and collegial reminiscences 
among a concerned few, the 
Worcester Consortium for 
Higher Education marks its 20th anniver- 
sary this year. While the celebrating may 
be low-key, the partnership of 10 area 
colleges and 14 associated cultural insti- 
tutions has plenty to feel good about. 
Although the consortium was incorpo- 
rated in 1969, its work actually began a 
year earlier with the inauguration of 
cross-registration, making it among the 
oldest of the nation's 100 or so similar 
associations. Creation of the alliance 
helped put an urgently needed collegiate 
face on an old mill town not recognized 
then as a center of higher learning. 

The group is now active in close to 20 
different areas of cooperation, ranging 
from joint purchasing and interlibrary 
book lending to its gerontology studies 
and off-campus internship programs. 

The consortium also extends its concerns 
statewide through the sponsorship of six 
Educational Opportunity Centers, which 
each year provide educational counseling 
and scholarship information to more than 
6,000 people. 

Launched on a shoestring budget and 
with a part-time staff of two, the consor- 
tium operates today on an almost 
million-dollar budget administered by a 
staff of 32. Its programs are run for the 
benefit of Worcester's 31,000 students. 
And as an industry, the consortium 
schools generated an economic impact 
on the Worcester area surpassing the Si- 
billion mark for the first time in 1986. 

The consortium's executive director, 
John W. Ryan, emphasizes that one of 
the keys to the organization's effective- 
ness is the tight geographic base that 
Worcester provides. All member schools 
are no more than 20 minutes apart, and 
several are connected by the consor- 
tium's own shuttle vans, operated by stu- 


What makes the consortium 
unique is that "each school has 
its own focus. Collectively, they 
don't attract students from the 
same pool," says John W. 
Ryan, executive director. The 
Worcester Consortium for 
Higher Education is one of the 
nation's oldest intercollege 

dents who, from the consortium's begin- 
ning, have been members of the WPI 
chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. 

"One of the things that makes the con- 
sortium unique," Ryan says, "is that 
each school has its own focus. Collec- 
tively, they don't attract students from 
the same pool. In that way, there's little 
competition." On the other hand, this 
diversity at times made getting the con- 
sortium off the ground a difficult task, 
one that required the good will and coop- 
eration of many people. 

Barbara Guthrie, a long-time adminis- 
trative assistant at the consortium, notes 
that "turf issues continue to surface. And 
concerns over quality of member institu- 
tions tended to hinder cooperation in the 
early days." 

"Nothing ever seemed to fall nicely 
into place," recalls Lawrence E. Fox, 
who preceded Ryan and was the consor- 
tium's executive director for 11 years. 
"It was all hard work." 

In many ways, the spiritual founder of 
the consortium was WPI's 10th presi- 
dent, the late Harry P. Storke. He was a 

West Point graduate who achieved the 
rank of lieutenant general before retiring 
from the Army. A skilled field com- 
mander and former chief of information 
for the Army, he was an energetic 
organizer naturally inclined to making 
the most of the resources at hand. During 
Storke's seven-year tenure at WPI, he 
oversaw a major expansion of the cam- 
pus, including the completion of Daniels 
Hall and the construction of Goddard 
Hall, George C. Gordon Library, Har- 
rington Auditorium, and Stoddard Resi- 
dence Center. In the same period, enroll- 
ment doubled, the college began 
admitting women, and a faculty commit- 
tee was appointed to begin work on what 
became the WPI Plan. 

When he arrived at WPI in 1962, 
Storke was struck by the number and 
diversity of educational institutions in 
Worcester, a situation he later said "con- 
tained the seeds of an education center 
which could be a model for progress 
throughout our country." 

"The consortium began almost by 
accident," recalls Roger N. Perry Jr. '45, 

42 WINTER 1988 

director of campaign communications at 
WPI, who was then in charge of public 
relations at the school. 

The project that was closest to Storke's 
heart, and the one where he saw the 
greatest potential economies of scale and 
promise for the future, was the creation 
of a great computer center to meet the 
increasing needs of Worcester's schools, 
industries, hospitals, and professional 

Perry recalls that Storke intended to 
propose his plan in a speech at the Wor- 
cester Area Chamber of Commerce 
"Salute to Education" dinner gathering 
in November 1965. But Perry suggested 
to Storke that the president offer the idea 
of a Worcester-area college computer 
center in a more comprehensive context. 
"I said, 'Why don't you consider listing 
several things that you'd like to see 
accomplished, and then if the [computer 
center] idea falls flat, at least you haven't 
lost everything,'" Perry recalls. "He 
said, T don't care. Put down whatever 
you want.' I said, 'How about a nice ten- 
point program?' He said, 'Go ahead.' 
The computer proposal, of course, was 
right in the middle of it." 

Storke's address, entitled "Worces- 
ter — Ail-American Education Center," 
included proposals for encouraging fac- 
ulty exchange, eliminating costly dupli- 
cate facilities, expanding undergraduate 
evening courses, and promoting joint 
public relations. (He noted, with fore- 
sight, that "our Worcester image needs 

Acknowledging that others had 
already glimpsed the possible advantages 
of increased cooperation between institu- 
tions, Storke characteristically came 
right to the point: "What I will empha- 
size tonight is that it is time for us to do 

Storke's vision of a microchip-based 
cooperative was never actually realized 
on the scale he had envisioned, although 
a more modest, WPI-centered computer 
operation known as the Worcester Area 
College Computation Center (WACCC) 

was subsequently established. 

According to the Rev. Georges Bis- 
sonnette, Storke's primary aims were to 
eliminate duplication of effort— and 
expenditures— and capitalize on each 
school's special strengths. Storke and 
Bissonnette, who is vice chancellor for 
community affairs and former president 
of consortium member Assumption Col- 
lege, go back a long way together— some 
20 years, to the War College in Carlyle 
Barracks, Penn., where the two had 
taught. Storke began working behind the 
scenes, Bissonnette says, lobbying fel- 
low college presidents and other inter- 
ested educators. 

The art of convincing others, though, 
was not a prominent element of Storke's 
managerial repertoire, Bissonnette 
recalls. "When you've been a general as 
long as he had, you can loose the ability 
to persuade people. You pull rank on 
them. But although he was much too 
smart to think he could pull rank on civil- 
ians, he could never shake off the idea 
that the appeal of an idea should be as 
clear to everybody else as it was to him. 

The late Harry P. Storke, 
WPI's 10th president, was, in 
many ways, the consortium's 
founder. A natural organizer, 
he was struck by the potential 
for creating a great education 
center in Worcester. It was his 
speech to the city's Chamber of 
Commerce in 1965 that set 
planning for the consortium in 


"The consortium began almost 
by accident," recalls Roger N. 
Perry Jr. '45, director of cam- 
paign communications at WPI. 
Knowing that President Storke 
wanted to establish a major 
computer center for Worces- 
ter's colleges, Perry convinced 
him to propose the plan as part 
of a 10-point program. In it 
were the seeds of the 

Therefore, I became his salesman." 

Cooperation among Worcester's col- 
leges had already received the enthusias- 
tic support of Clark University's presi- 
dent Howard Jefferson. In fact, a degree 
of cooperation had been achieved 
between Clark and WPI through limited 
cross-registration and a co-administered 
biomedical engineering course. 

What was needed most, Storke said, 
was wide-scale provision of technical 
services. But reaching that goal would 
require the formation of a group that 
could generate the financial resources 
necessary to purchase advanced com- 
puter and support facilities. 

A forerunner of the consortium — a 
forum of local college presidents called 
the Committee of Seven — had been 
formed in 1967 to explore areas of 
mutual interest. "We had God knows 
how many lunches and dinners and 
breakfasts with the college presidents," 
says Bissonnette. "But as time went 
along, they started coming in and mak- 
ing suggestions, and that's when we 
knew they were on board." 

That in turn led to a formalization of 

long-standing contacts which had also 
been growing among purchasing offi- 
cers, librarians, and faculty members at 
the various schools. The consortium was 
clearly an idea waiting to happen. 

The turbulence and uncertainties of the 
late 1960s also encouraged the various 
college administrations to cooperate 
more closely. The rapid social and tech- 
nological advances of the time and the 
sudden availability of large amounts of 
federal funds seemed to point to the need 
for a more collective approach. But, 
Perry recalls, the consortium's proud, 
new three-arrow emblem seemed to sym- 
bolize contradiction. "We finally 
decided that it meant students, faculty, 
and administration— each going his or 
her own way," he says with a laugh. 

Shortly before his retirement in 1969, 
Harry Storke, the inveterate organizer, 
went on to found and become the first 
vice president of the Association of Inde- 
pendent Colleges and Universities in 
Massachusetts (AICUM). 

The consortium's charter offering, 
cross-registration, has declined in popu- 
larity since its inception, down from 

44 WINTER 1988 

about 1 ,000 annually 10 years ago to 900 
today. The reason, according to John van 
Alstyne, lies largely in the differing aca- 
demic calendars of the member institu- 
tions. A professor of mathematics at 
WPI, van Alstyne was deeply involved 
with the consortium for 15 years in his 
post as dean of academic advising at the 

"The colleges have basically been 
unable to find compatible schedules," he 
says. "It's been disappointing in that 
respect because a lot of potential has 
never materialized." 

Ryan notes that the fact that only five 
of the city's colleges— WPI, Clark Uni- 
versity, Holy Cross, Assumption, and 
the University of Massachusetts Medical 
Center— are linked by the shuttle service 
also diminishes the impact of the pro- 
gram. Another factor, van Alstyne sug- 
gests, may be a diminished interest in 
foreign languages, which since the early 
1970s has accounted for the single big- 
gest segment of cross-registration. Still, 
van Alstyne adds, "cross-registration has 
been a success when it has enabled stu- 
dents who were unsure of their major 
field of study to try something in a totally 
different area." 

Timothy A. Blake, a junior at WPI 
who is majoring in mechanical engineer- 
ing, has already taken two French 
courses at Assumption and another at 
Holy Cross. "I definitely benefited from 
it," he says, "but I think the program 
could use some improvements. Better 
coordination of semester breaks would 
cut down on interference with cross- 

Another WPI student, Maria M. 
Mathieson '90, says that after taking a 
14-week Russian course at Clark, she 
discovered that she only received the 
credit equivalent of one seven-week 
course at WPI. "Something needs to be 
worked out with that," she says. 

But for those pursuing interdiscipli- 
nary degrees, the variety and flexibility 
offered by the consortium's vast collec- 
tive curriculum is an important asset. 

Says Jonathan A. Malin, a WPI com- 
puter science graduate student interested 
in neural networks, a subject involving 
elements of mathematics, biology, and 
psychology, "Cross-registration creates 
in the consortium schools what amounts 
to a super-university in Worcester." 

And cross-registration can have more 
personal benefits, as Gary Strum, a 
senior majoring in psychology at Clark 
University, discovered. Strum enrolled 
in a course in artificial intelligence at 
WPI, he said, "less for the content than 
for the chance to learn more about stu- 
dents at other schools. It was very valu- 

Strum says students at Worcester's col- 
leges often have stereotypes about stu- 
dents at the other area colleges, miscon- 
ceptions that can be quickly overcome by 
taking advantage of cross-registration. 
"You find out that people are people 
everywhere," he says. 

From a financial standpoint, the con- 
sortium's major program is in the realm 
of joint purchasing of commodities nec- 
essary for the everyday operation of 
member institutions: office supplies and 
furniture, paper towels and toilet tissue, 
polyurethane bags, paint and painting 
supplies, chemicals, landscape materi- 
als, light bulbs, and, most importantly, 
close to four million gallons of fuel oil a 

The Joint Purchasing Committee is 
exploring new areas in which they might 
save money, such as a collective trash 
dump fee and travel services. Still, there 
are limits to what it can accomplish 
because of purchasing arrangements the 
colleges have with other associations, 
like the Massachusetts Higher Education 
Consortium. Nevertheless, Ryan esti- 
mates the total savings at over $ 1 million 

Not least of the benefits, reports Clark 
University business manager Jack L. 
Foley, is the exchange of information 
with other business managers. "The dol- 
lars saved are great— and they're tangi- 
ble," he says, "but I've also learned a lot 

from working with my colleagues in the 

In addition to cross-registration and 
joint purchasing, the consortium offers 
services such as shuttle transportation for 
all consortium students. The shuttle serv- 
ice employs 25 drivers and two managers 
to provide about 60,000 student trips a 
year among member institutions. In fact, 
the shuttle's printed timetable is so exten- 

creates in the 
consortium schools 
what amounts to a 
in Worcester." 

sive that it looks more like a long- 
distance bus schedule than an intracity 
van schedule. 

In other vital areas, the consortium's 
interlibrary loan program helps avoid 
redundant acquisitions and provides 
access to three million books, periodi- 
cals, tapes, and other resource materials 
currently held in consortium member 
libraries. About 25,000 books are 
involved in interlibrary exchanges each 
year, or 1.4 books per consortium stu- 

The Health Studies Option and its 
more specialized offshoot, the Gerontol- 
ogy Studies Program, take advantage of 
consortium resources in health care serv- 
ices and administration, including those 
at the UMass Medical Center. The 
Health Studies Option, which enrolled 
about 800 students last year, and the Ger- 
ontology Studies Program, which 
attracted 100 students and leads to a cer- 
tificate, provide opportunities for intern- 
ships and research in laboratory settings. 
"No institution on its own could afford 
to have a program like this," notes Ryan. 

The Consortium Tuition Waiver Pro- 


The Rev. Georges Bissonnette, 
vice chancellor for community 
affairs and former president of 
Assumption College, worked 
with President Storke behind 
the scenes to convince the pres- 
idents of Worcester's colleges of 
the consortium's benefits. 

gram, under which 250 Worcester public 
school teachers have taken enrichment 
courses since 1984, reflects the consor- 
tium's close relationship with the city's 
school system. Up to 100 students are 
provided with tuition annually. 

The New Technologies Safety and 
Health Institute, established jointly in 
1986 by Clark University, the UMass 
Medical School, and WPI as a consor- 
tium program, is involved in the risk 
assessment and control of occupational 
and environmental hazards. The insti- 
tute, which is intended to serve as a 
national clearing house for all such infor- 
mation, sponsors an annual conference. 

In February 1988, the consortium is 
planning a job fair at Assumption Col- 
lege aimed at showing more graduates 
from member institutions the profes- 
sional, cultural, and social advantages of 

remaining in Central Massachusetts fol- 
lowing graduation. Fifty companies have 
agreed to participate. "There are a grow- 
ing number of careers in the Worcester 
area, particularly in the service sector, 
and we'd like to give our students first 
crack at them," says Ryan. 

Another program currently on the 
drawing board will assist about a dozen 
disadvantaged young people a year- 
monitoring their progress through high 
school and providing them tutors, coun- 
seling, and other assistance. If these stu- 
dents complete the program, Ryan says, 
every effort will be made to have them 
admitted to the colleges of their choice. 
And if that school is a member of the 
consortium, the students will attend free 
of charge. 

Prospects for other ventures are some- 
what uncertain, Ryan allows, because, 

while it continues to provide a useful 
framework for new activities, "the con- 
sortium has reached a mature stage in its 
development, in which we are essentially 
refining our existing commitments." 

Other factors also influence the con- 
sortium's future. On one hand, the mem- 
ber institutions themselves still have their 
own priorities and programs that they 
feel they can best undertake. On the 
other hand, the colleges' participation in 
other, larger groups like AICUM and 
the Massachusetts Higher Education 
Consortium to some degree preclude 
expansion of the consortium's role. 

Looking back, though, no one can 
deny that much has been accomplished 
since Harry Storke first came to town. 

Jerry Parchois is a free-lance writer 
based in Worcester. 

46 WINTER 1988 


Winthrop Brown '14: 
A Wonderful Life 

By Roger N.Perry Jr. '45 

At 96, Winthrop B. Brown's zest for 
life is as strong as ever. He 
returned last year from his third 
vacation in Yugoslavia, and an article of 
his recently appeared in a national publi- 
cation of the Presbyterian Church. 
Brown's only concession to his age is his 
reluctant use of a cane. 

Nearly 75 years ago, Brown left WPI 
with a degree in chemistry, fully expect- 
ing to pursue a career in that field. In the 
ensuing years, though, Brown's life and 
work have taken him beyond the chemis- 
try lab and into fields as different as 
investment banking and corporate law. 

On a recent visit to WPI, he recounted 
his varied career with the ease of an 
accomplished storyteller. He began as a 
chemist in the coal fields near Pitts- 
burgh, where he developed an ash fusion 
test that became a new industry standard. 
With $35, he designed and built an opti- 
cal pyrometer that did the job of a S 1 ,200 
furnace. He says he left the coal com- 
pany after several years when an 
expected raise was half what he'd antici- 

"That was the end of chemistry for 
me," he says. "I had a growing family 
then, and I decided to go into sales. A 
friend suggested investment banking. 
That's where the money was then. I 
didn't know anything about that, but I 
figured I could learn." 

And learn he did. He became a Pitts- 
burgh representative of Dillon, Reed in 
New York, where he remained until the 
Crash of '29. Then he helped manage a 
small oil company until, "squeezed out 
by the big companies," it filed for bank- 

"In the '30s, one of the big banks in 
Pittsburgh approached us about market- 
ing a large block of Pittsburgh Steel 

Winthrop Brown, shown here on a re- 
cent visit to Goddard Hall, began his 
career in the coal industry with $35 
and a new invention. 

Foundry stock, which we did. As a 
result, my partner became a member of 
the board. At that time, we were one of 
the three companies in the country that 
could make really large steel castings. 
During World War II, we made all the 
anchors for battleships. Every anchor 
had to be X-rayed for flaws and we had 
what was then the largest X-ray machine 
in the country." 

After his longtime partner became 
president of the firm and he became cor- 
porate secretary, Brown decided to leave 
business behind for corporate law. 
Although he wasn't a lawyer, he used his 
background in banking and business to 
advantage, working with the Pittsburgh 
law firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw and 
McLay: "That was a very rewarding 
way to finish my working career." 

In retirement, Brown moved to Pom- 
pano, Fla. Active in their church 
throughout their lives, he and his wife 
became involved in the large Presbyte- 

rian church there. The Browns traveled a 
quarter of a million miles through the 
U.S. and Mexico by trailer and motor 

Brown's wife died five years ago. He 
continues to live in St. Andrew's Estates, 
a retirement home "which has every- 
thing you need to be comfortable." 

If there is one memory Of which he is 
most proud, it would be a time in the 
early 1920s when he was living in Irwin, 
Penn., a small town 21 miles east of 

"It had been run by the same group of 
old boys for many years, and they were 
only interested in keeping taxes down. 
Several of us younger folks got together 
and decided we'd run for every town 
office in the next election and turn things 
around. We got every one of our group 
elected. I got the school board." 

Brown inspected the grammar school 
and was appalled by its physical condi- 
tion. The town hired an architect and 
renovated the building to make it safe, 
sanitary, and more attractive. "We held 
an open house and there were cheers 
from everybody," Brown said. 

Similar attention was devoted to the 
academic program, with the result that 
"Irwin ended up with some of the finest 
schools in the country. And nobody com- 
plained about paying a little more taxes 
at the time," notes Brown. 

Winthrop Brown was raised in Maine 
and graduated from Portland High 
School. He wanted to go to Bowdoin, 
but his parents suggested WPI. 

"When John Boynton proposed build- 
ing this school, he said he wanted it to 
prepare people to run the factories of the 
future," Brown notes. "As I look back, 
Worcester Tech did a pretty good job of 
doing that for me, and I'm grateful." 

Roger Perry is director of campaign 
communications at WPI. 



Back in the U.S.S.R.: 
WPI's Patrick Dunn Visits Worcester's Sister City 

By Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

The students in the robotics labora- 
tory huddle over their instruments, 
working intently on ways to imple- 
ment control systems in a canning opera- 

In another lab, a plant science major 
studies biological controls for insect 

These scenes might be familiar to any- 
one at WPI. but the setting would not, 
for the school described here is the Len- 
ingrad Agricultural Institute in Pushkin, 
a Soviet city 10 miles from Leningrad. 

Pushkin recently became Worcester's 
"sister city" in the Soviet Union. Last 
fall, Patrick P. Dunn, associate professor 
of history at WPI, visited Pushkin as part 
of a small Worcester delegation that 
included Mayor Timothy J. Cooney Jr. 

Dunn's research interests include Rus- 
sian and Soviet history. He said the offi- 
cial reason for the visit — set up under the 
auspices of Sister Cities International- 
was to begin a formal exchange between 
the two cities. 

"The only thing we were promised," 
Dunn says, "was that Worcester area cit- 
izens going to Leningrad will be wel- 
comed by the people of Pushkin. From 
that understanding will hopefully evolve 
peace [between the U.S. and Soviet 

But as Dunn toured local institutions or 
attended events, including the Leningrad 
Circus, a very private purpose for his trip 
emerged. He became determined to find 
some link between his work at WPI and 
educational and cultural life in Pushkin. 

The most obvious connection was the 
Agricultural Institute. With its 10,000 
students pursuing degrees in fields like 
mechanical engineering, biotechnology, 
and robotics, the Pushkin Institute is 
similar in many ways to WPI. 

During the three hours he spent at the 
school, he found much to commend and 
a number of things to question. In fact, 
Dunn says the school appeared to be a 
microcosm of Soviet culture, a society 

with many strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, though students have 
some choice as to where they will get 
their higher education, Dunn says that 
most agree to attend the school to which 
the state assigns them, since this guaran- 
tees them a free education. By accepting 

"The only thing 

we were promised 

was that Worcester 

area citizens 

will be welcomed 

by the people 

of Pushkin." 

this choice, students are also assigned 
their first jobs after graduation, which 
allows the government to place profes- 
sionals based on need, not economics. 

Taking the financial concerns out of 
education has its advantages, Dunn says. 
The Soviet students he met seemed sur- 
prisingly free of career and job concerns. 
"They concentrate on their studies," he 
says. "It would be wonderful if in the 
U.S. students could have economic pres- 
sures lifted." 

This freedom from financial worries 
was balanced, however, by the loss of 
other freedoms, Dunn notes. Nowhere 
was this more obvious than in the narrow 
intellectual horizons of the Soviet stu- 
dents. Although extremely competent 
and more aware of world events than 
most U.S. students, to Dunn they 
seemed intellectually limited by the gov- 
ernment's interpretation of information 
and the limited amount of facts it dissem- 

"The first thing you notice in the 
U.S.S.R. is the lack of information. 
There's one newspaper, no news maga- 
zines, and no TV news analysis," he 
explains. "It's not so much telling people 
what to believe as the lack of informa- I 


In other ways, though, Dunn found the 
Soviet Union a far more liberal place 
than when he last visited 14 years ago. 
For example, the Soviet people no longer 
seem to be suffering from an inferiority 

"They feel equal," Dunn says. "They 
don't have to prove anything. This 
means they can be more open about their 
failings, but also more independent of 
the U.S. I don't think they will make 
compromises to get along." 

These changes seem to be, at least in 
part, the result of glasnost, the Gorba- 
chev government's attempt to liberalize 
the Soviet Union, Dunn says. As a good 
indicator of this new policy, Dunn points 
to his guide, who was openly critical of 
the quality of Soviet goods. Such criti- 
cism would have been impossible in 
1973, he says. 

Dunn was also surprised at the preva- 
lence of rock music. "It's everywhere," 
he claims. "The state is harnessing rock 
concerts— the rebelliousness of youth— 
to make changes in the system." 

Since his return from Russia, Dunn 
has been working hard to encourage WPI 
students to visit the Soviet Union with 
him this spring as part of a student 

While in Pushkin, Dunn found a stu- 
dent leader at the Agricultural Institute 
who will meet visiting WPI students and 
give them a tour of the campus. And, he 
notes, the fact that a third of the Russian 
students speak English will largely 
remove the language barrier that could 
stand in the way of such an exchange. 

Though Dunn has no illusions that 
these sorts of exchanges will resolve the 
differences between the U.S. and the 
Soviet Union, he says they do "enable 
Americans to see Soviet life and culture 
on a less superficial basis." 

Opposite: Patrick Dunn, associate pro- 
fessor of history, with some mementos 
of his most recent trip to the Soviet 

48 WINTER 1988 


Dr. Alexander E. Emanuel 

The George I. Alden Professor 
of Electrical Engineering 

V V hen all is said and done, it is the faculty that 
determines the stature and vitality of an educational 
institution. And for every professor, a distinguished chair 
represents the pinnacle of excellence in teaching and 

Alex Emanuel, current holder of the Alden Chair, is 
the only WPI professor to receive the Trustees' Award for 
both teaching and creative scholarship. An expert in electric 
power systems science, he values particularly his time spent 
nurturing young minds. 

"Growing the seed takes time," he says, "but seeing the plant' 
bear fruit is so satisfying. And helping students learn how to ask 
the right questions can be as vital to their futures as finding answers." 

At the same time, Emanuel says, "There's a detective in me 
that wants to unveil the secrets of nature." His research enjoys 
extensive sponsorship in the power engineering community. Right 
now, for example, his detective work 
includes learning about the 
"pollution" effects induced by 
harmonics and other phenomena 
generated by power systems. 

WPI enjoys the benefits of a 
few distinguished chairs— Alden, 
Fletcher, Fuller, Merriam, 
Stoddard. Collectively, their 
incumbents represent the 
Institute's highest level of 
scholarly achievement. Yet the 
college needs more such scholars. 
In at least a dozen subjects, a 
distinguished faculty appointment 
would materially enhance the 
stature of WPI. 

Providing the means to endow faculty 
chairs like that held by Alex Emanuel gets to 
the heart of the academic enterprise. Your 

commitment to this venture can ensure for 
tomorrow's scholars and students the academic 
excellence that is so much a part of WPI's heritage. 



Support the Campaign for Excellence. 

Biotechnology in Worcester ♦ A Medical Revolution 


^OTr* 1 

SIMUNC; l l )SK 




SPRING 1988 


Staff of the WPI Journal: Publisher, 
Kenneth L. McDonnell • Editor, Michael W. 
Dorsey • Alumni Information Editor, Ruth S. 

Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel 
Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary '71 

• Judith Donahue, SIM '82 • William J. 
Firla. Jr. '60 • Maureen Sexton Horgan '83 

• Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is pub- 
lished quarterly for the WPI Alumni Associ- 
ation by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Magazine Con- 
sortium, with editorial offices at the Johns 
Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages I-XVI are published for the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium [Franklin and Mar- 
shall College, Johns Hopkins University, Vil- 
lanova University, Western Maryland 
College, Western Reserve College (Case 
Western Reserve University), Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute] and appear in the re- 
spective alumni magazines of those institu- 
tions. Second class postage paid at Worcester, 
MA, and additional mailing offices. Pages 
1-16, 33-48 ® 1988, Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute. Pages I-XVI ® 1988, Johns Hop- 
kins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine Consor- 
tium: Editor, Donna Shoemaker • Wrap De- 
signer and Production Coordinator, Amy 
Doudiken Wells • Assistant Editor, Julia 
Ridgely • Consulting Editors, Alan Sea and 
Elise Hancock • Core Designers, Allen Car- 
roll and Amy Doudiken Wells. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Franklin and Marshall Col- 
lege, Linda Whipple and Patti Lawson • 
Johns Hopkins University, B.J. Norris and 
Alan Sea • Villanova University, Eugene J. 
Ruane and D.M. Howe • Western Maryland 
College, Joyce Muller and Sherri Kimmel 
Diegel • Western Reserve College, David C. 
Twining • Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 
Michael Dorsey and Kenneth L. McDonnell. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, BG Com- 
position, Inc.; Printing, American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of public interest are 
presented in the magazine. These views do not 
necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or 
official policies of WPI. Address correspon- 
dence to the Editor, The WPI Journal. Worces- 
ter Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609. 
Telephone (617) 793-5616. Postmaster: If un- 
deliverable please send form 3579 to the ad- 
dress above. Do not return publication. 

6 The Making of a Medical 

Michael V. Shanley 
and Paul Susca 

Five alumni who changed the face of medicine. 
12 Biotechnology Meets the Michael V. Shanley 

Perpetual Motion Engine 

Worcester's Biotechnology Research Park takes flight. 

/ Lessons from Not Long Ago Mia Ridgely 

Sorting out the recent past for curious students. 

VIII Home Sleek Home Mary Ruth Yoe 

Do the gadgets that crowd our counters and closets really 
save time? 

XII ZOOS, Tunes and GweepS Elise Hancock 

A crash course in campus "slanguage." 

33 74 to 1 Evelyn Herwitz 

WPI's first women undergraduates paved the way for those 
who followed. 

39 A Personal Adventure Edward N. Clarke 

Across Australia with the World Solar Challenge. 


2 Advance Word: New science, new industry. Michael W. Dorsey 

3 Input: Thoughts on modern medicine. Thomas A. Shannon 

4 Investigations: Steps toward an insulin pump, taking the 
measure of a cough. 

5 Explorations: Using video to help adolescents overcome the stress 
of hospitalization. 

45 Communique: Leadership in higher education. Jon C. Strauss 

46 Inside WPI: Minority students ride WPI's COMET. 
Denise R. Rodino 

47 Memory Bank: The history of the WPI seal. Roger N. Perry Jr. 

48 Final Word: Two years on the roof of the world. 
Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

Cover: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist 
Terry Redgate scans a patient at Worcester's Biotechnology 
Park as WPI Professor Stephen C. Moore looks on. 
Story on page 12. Photo by Michael Carroll. 

Page 12 

■1 "\ 

n "ir 

Page 39 



A Special Issue of WPS Journal: 
From Basic Science Comes a New Industry 

It was just before midnight 
on July 3, 1977. In a lab- 
oratory at the Downstate 
Medical Center in Brooklyn, 
N.Y. , Lawrence A. Minkoff 
'69 removed his shirt, slipped 
a cardboard vest wrapped 
with copper tape around his 
chest and sat down on a plank 
in the middle of a large cir- 
cular magnet. Fighting fa- 
tigue and chill, Minkoff sat 
still for nearly five hours 
while radio signals scanned 
his chest. The result, pictured 
at right, was an amazingly 
detailed image of the struc- 
ture of Minkoff's internal 
anatomy, the first human im- 
age ever obtained with a 
magnetic resonance imaging 
(MRI) scanner. 

Today Minkoff is executive vice pres- 
ident of FONAR Corporation. Founded 
by Raymond Damadian, a professor at 
Downstate with whom Minkoff did his 
graduate work in MRI, the company is 
a leading manufacturer of medical MRI 
machines. The technology developed by 
Damadian, Minkoff and other Down- 
state students is being used by thousands 
of doctors to detect abnormalities of the 
soft tissue, including multiple sclerosis 
and cancer. It is one of a host of revo- 
lutionary technologies— the products of 
basic research in biomedical engineering 
and biotechnology— that are transform- 
ing medicine, pharmacology and agri- 
culture and giving rise to a brand new 

At its 120th Commencement exercises 
this spring WPI is paying tribute to this 
new industry. Among its shapers is Leo 
J. Thomas, WPI's 1988 speaker and one 
of four honorary degree recipients. 

The first-ever MRI image: a cross 
section of the chest of Larry Min- 
koff '69. 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

As senior vice president and general 
manager of the Life Sciences Division 
of Eastman Kodak Company, Thomas 
presides over a major research effort that 
may lead to whole new classes of drugs 
for use in the diagnosis and treatment of 
ailments of the immune, cardiovascular 
and central nervous systems. 

The three other honorary degree reci- 
pients are also being recognized for their 
achievements in this new industry. They 
are Walter L. Robb, senior vice presi- 
dent for corporate research and develop- 
ment at General Electric Company; Ga- 
briel Schmergel, president and chief 
executive officer at Genetics Institute 
Inc.; and Larry Minkoff. 

By choosing this commencement 
theme, WPI is acknowledging not only 
the amazing accomplishments of this 
young industry, but the role WPI has 
played in creating it. Several of WPI's 
faculty members, students and alumni 
have, through basic and applied re- 
search, played a role in the revolution 
that is transforming our world. 

It is to these achievements 
that we devote the first 16 
pages of this edition of the 
WPI Journal. You will read 
about several alumni whose 
work in biology and biomed- 
ical engineering has helped 
transform medicine. You will 
also find a profile of the Mas- 
sachusetts Biotechnology Re- 
search Park in Worcester, a 
focal point for advanced re- 
search and state-of-the-art 
commercial applications in 

Also included is a small 
sample of the wide variety of 
research and student project 
activity under way at WPI 
that is helping to fuel the 
new industry. In the labor- 
atories of WPI's Biomedical 
Engineering Program, students and fac- 
ulty are engaged in research in nonin- 
vasive medical sensors, medical imaging 
and cardiopulmonary physiology. Re- 
searchers in the Biology and Biotechnol- 
ogy Department are tackling fundamen- 
tal questions in genetics, cell biology, 
molecular biology and neurobiology, and 
advancing such applied fields as cell cul- 
ture, fermentation and bioprocess engi- 
neering. In such departments as Chemi- 
cal Engineering, Electrical Engineering 
and Mechanical Engineering, work is 
under way in biochemistry, enzyme en- 
gineering, neurophysiology and biome- 
chanics. And in WPI's Humanities De- 
partment, ethicists are exploring the 
implications of this revolutionary work 
on our society. 

I hope you enjoy this special issue of 
the WPI Journal. 

SPRING 1988 


High-Tech Medicine: 
The Change from Caring to Curing 

The science and practice 
of medicine have pro- 
gressed dramatically in 
recent decades. Thanks to the 
discovery of vaccines and 
significant improvements in 
public sanitation, water qual- 
ity and diet, diseases that 
were rampant even 50 years 
ago— polio, measles, mumps 
and smallpox— are essentially 
maladies of the past. 

We have also seen a genu- 
ine revolution in health care 
and in the ability of physi- ^ 
cians to intervene benefi- fe 
cially in the lives of their pa- 
tients. In many ways this is a "''£——■" 
golden age of medicine. Or is 

Despite the blessings of 
modern medicine, important 
questions are being raised about it, some 
focusing on its very successes. 

For example, the progress we have 
seen in medicine has, in many cases, 
altered the relationship between physi- 
cians and their patients. Traditionally, 
most of us went to a single physician 
who attended to all of our health needs. 
While the "old-fashioned" family doc- 
tor has been romanticized, he or she did 
treat patients in a holistic fashion and 
was frequently as attentive to the psy- 
chosocial dimensions of a patient's life 
as the physical. 

But while these physicians had a good 
"sense" of their patients, there was of- 
ten little they could do for them because 
of the undeveloped state of medicine. 

Things are different today. With the 
rise of HMOs, clinics and group prac- 
tices, and with the increasing mobility 
of the population, Americans are less 
likely to be seen by the same physician 
over an extended period. They are also 
more likely than ever before to be re- 
ferred to specialists who, despite their 
advanced training and competence, share 
no common history with their patients. 
When medical emergencies strike, pa- 

' : 

By Thomas A. Shannon 

tients can find themselves in the care of 
physicians they have never met before. 

While today's physicians can usually 
"do something" for their patients, they 
may have little sense of the impact of 
such interventions on their patients' 

Another major change in medicine, 
also a function of specialization, is the 
shift from caring for patients to curing 
them. The job of the specialist is to ad- 
minister a particular treatment, to per- 
form a particular operation, or to deal 
with a particular disease or pathogen. 
His or her focus is on the disease and 
not the patient. 

When the cure doesn't work— when 
the specialists' valued skills fail to bring 
about the desired results— physicians 
may be at a loss for what to do. AIDS is 
a particularly poignant example. While 
there is no cure for AIDS, its victims 
need exceptionally high levels of care. 
But those who are trained primarily to 
cure are often frustrated and unsure how 
to intervene when faced with patients for 
whom no cure is possible. 

At issue is not whether these special- 
ists are caring individuals; of course they 

are. But their training has fo- 
cused on the techniques of 
curing rather than the skills 
of caring. 

Contemporary medicine is 
also extremely costly. Bring- 
ing a new drug to market in- 
volves years and millions of 
dollars worth of research, 
testing and documentation. 
The introduction of new med- 
ical equipment can be even 
more expensive. 
New drugs and equipment 
Is. enhance the focus of modern 
:<3 medicine on curing illnesses 
a| or compensating for the loss 
! ? 'J' of a patient's capacity. These 
"""' goals have driven the devel- 
opment and use of life sup- 
port systems, artificial or- 
gans, sophisticated diagnostic 
tools like magnetic resonance imaging 
and ultrasound, and high-tech treat- 
ments, such as the variety of devices 
used to unblock arteries. 

But these technologies come into play 
only after a problem has developed. 
They are the product of a system dedi- 
cated to research and development, not 

Certainly no single decision set medi- 
cine on this course. Still, high-tech med- 
icine is more flashy, more impressive 
and more income-producing than the 
frequently boring and often frustrating 
efforts to help individuals change their 
lifestyles to prevent diseases from devel- 
oping in the first place. 

Yet a shift to preventive medicine 
would, in the long run, be less expen- 
sive. If a disease does not occur, one 
does not need to cure it. Clearly, more 
attention must be paid to the social con- 
text in which medicine is practiced be- 
fore we plan the next generation of med- 
ical technology. 

Dr. Shannon is professor of religion and 
social ethics in WPI's. Department of 



One step closer to an insulin 

One of the dreams of researchers who 
study diabetes is to develop a closed- 
loop insulin pump, which could free 
many diabetics from the tedious daily 
routine of self-injection. But the devel- 
opment of such a device depends on 
finding a way to continuously monitor 
glucose in the bloodstream, since this 
information is essential for regulating the 
delivery of insulin. 

While progress has been made on var- 
ious insulin pumps, it will be some time 
before a reliable glucose sensor is ready, 
according to Robert Peura, director of 
WPI's Biomedical Engineering Pro- 
gram, and Yitzhak Mendelson, assistant 
professor of biomedical engineering. 

With funding from the National Insti- 
tutes of Health, Mendelson and Peura 
are taking a step toward that goal by 
developing a fiberoptic glucose sensor. 
The work is based on research they con- 
ducted over the past two years with WPI 
master's students Allen C. Clermont 
(who began the work as an undergradu- 
ate) and Been-Chyuan Lin. 

Using a technique known as attenu- 
ated total reflection, they showed that it 
is possible to measure continuously the 
concentration of glucose in blood. The 
technique involves passing the beam of 
a carbon dioxide (CO,) laser through a 
zinc selenide prism that is in contact with 
blood, and then analyzing the laser beam 
to see how much light of a specific 
wavelength the blood absorbs. 

The next step will be miniaturizing 
this bench-top system. Mendelson and 
Peura say their goal is to develop a fiber- 
optic device made from the same mate- 
rial as the prism that can be inserted into 
the bloodstream through a catheter. The 
fiber will guide the carbon dioxide laser 
beam to the blood and then carry the 
reflected light back to an optical 

Mendelson says other researchers are 

SPRING 1988 

working on glucose sensors, though most 
sensors use some form of chemical anal- 
ysis, in which a chemical reaction with 
glucose causes a detectable color change. 

"Our approach is unique in the sense 
that we are trying to avoid indirect detec- 
tion," Mendelson says. "Instead of an 
intermediary chemical reaction, we are 
looking directly at the infrared absorp- 
tion properties of the blood itself." 

Though the long-term goal is to create 
a glucose sensor that can aid the devel- 
opment of a permanent insulin pump, 
Mendelson says a reliable glucose sen- 
sor may have more immediate use in 
monitoring diabetic patients and screen- 
ing healthy individuals. 

Allen Clermont (far left), Robert 
Peura and Been-Chyuan Lin with glu- 
cose sensor. 

To catch a cough 

Coughing is among the most common 
reasons people seek medical attention. 
It's also big business. Currently, phar- 
maceutical companies market 900 pre- 
scription and nonprescription products 
for controlling coughs. Over-the-counter 
cough suppressants alone accounted for 
half a million dollars in sales in 1981. 

In spite of this, little is known about 
which medications, if any, truly control 
or eliminate coughing. The problem is 
that standard tests for cough medicines 
ask subjects to keep track of how many 
times they cough over a period of several 
hours. This self-reporting method is 

subject to significant error. 

To help correct this, Frederick M. 
Bennett, assistant professor of biomedi- 
cal engineering at WPI, and Dr. Richard 
Irwin, director of pulmonary medicine 
at the University of Massachusetts Med- 
ical Center, are at work on an electronic 
cough detector and counter. 

Bennett and Irwin, in collaboration 
with WPI graduate student Thomas 
Webler ('87 M.S.), first studied the types 
of sounds that are associated with the 
physiological changes that occur during 
coughing. Using microphones placed at 
the trachea and the top of the sternum, 
they recorded coughs and other sounds 
made by several patients suffering from 
chronic coughing. 

Because some of the sounds made 
during coughing are produced by the vo- 
cal chords in a process similar to speech, 
Bennett and Irwin analyzed the tape re- 
cordings with standard speech recogni- 
tion software to see if these programs 
could discriminate between coughing 
and other sounds, including speech, 
made by the patients. 

The results were promising, Bennett 
says. The next step will be to improve 
the algorithms in order to determine with 
greater accuracy the difference between 
coughs and speech, and to be able to 
recognize — perhaps even distinguish 
among — the wide variety of human 

The algorithm will be tested on a large 
sample of patients at the University of 
Massachusetts Medical Center. The fi- 
nal step— still a few years away, Bennett 
says— will be incorporating the algo- 
rithm into a miniaturized device that can 
be comfortably worn by test subjects. 

In addition to providing an unbiased 
method for assessing new cough formu- 
las, a cough detector would also be a 
valuable tool for pulmonary physicians 
who need to know the frequency and 
severity of coughing in patients who suf- 
fer from chronic coughs. Such patients 
account for about 10 percent of all peo- 
ple seen by pulmonary specialists. 


Project BODYWORKS: Using 
Interactive Video to Make 
Hospitalization Less Stressful 
for Adolescent Patients 

Major Qualifying Project by James D. 
Goodell '87. 

Advisors: James S. Demetry, associate 
head. Electrical Engineering Depart- 
ment, and Helen G. Vassallo, associate 
professor of management 

Interactive Qualifying Project by 

Karen L. Reichenbach '88, Carleen F. 

Maitland '88, Natalie A. Lucas '88 

and Joan Goodell of Worcester State 


Advisor: Leonard Goodwin, professor of 

social science and policy studies 

Sponsor: St. Vincent Hospital, 
Worcester, Mass. 

A hospital stay can be an unpleasant ex- 
perience for anyone. But for adolescent 
patients in particular, the hours spent 
confined to a hospital bed can be filled 
with frustration, fear, anger and just 
plain boredom. 

Helping adolescent patients overcome 
the stress of hospitalization is the goal 
of Project BODYWORKS, a collabora- 
tive effort of students, faculty and staff 
at WPI, Worcester State College and St. 
Vincent Hospital. 

Over the past three years, this consor- 
tium developed and tested an interactive 
videodisk program designed to be used 
by teenage hospital patients. Trials with 
the program confirmed that interactive 
video can indeed reduce stress and make 
patients feel more positive about their 
experience in the hospital. 

Project BODYWORKS was the brain 
child of James Goodell '87. Goodell 
launched the program after another WPI 
undergraduate, Brian Witkowski '84, did 
a pilot study that showed that adoles- 
cents who played text-based computer 
games had a better attitude about hospi- 

Left to right: Seniors Karen Reichen- 
bach, Natalie Lucas and Carleen 

talization than those who spent their time 
with more passive forms of entertain- 
ment, such as television. 

While the games were effective, the 
patients, who were generally confined to 
bed, sometimes had trouble reading the 
text on a computer screen and were not 
able to type extensively on a keyboard. 
Goodell decided that an interactive video 
presentation that required a minimum 
amount of reading and typing would be 
a better solution. 

He also recognized that producing 
such a program would take the talents 
and resources of many people. So he 
established the Project BODYWORKS 
consortium in 1985 to plan, produce and 
test a prototype video system. 

Over the next 15 months, Goodell 
worked with a writer, a video producer 
and computer science students from 
Worcester State College; actors; and 
faculty advisors to create a program that 
uses a computer to merge video footage, 
sound, music, graphics and text into an 
interactive game. 

The presentation was based on a con- 
cept of Dr. Sean Palfrey, chief of pedi- 
atrics at St. Vincent Hospital and a 
member of the Project BODYWORKS 
board of directors. St. Vincent also pro- 
vided the funds for the program's 

In Palfrey's program, adolescent pa- 
tients play the role of a physician and 
attempt to diagnose the cause of a child's 

stomachache and fever. By using a 
touch-sensitive TV screen or typing sim- 
ple commands on a computer keyboard, 
the patients can ask the child questions, 
do a physical examination and look up 
information in a "medical guidebook." 

In response to the commands, a com- 
puter selects video footage or displays 
informational screens from a videodisk 
and merges them with titles and other 
text and graphics stored on the com- 
puter. The result is a simple story con- 
trolled entirely by the user who, after 
gathering sufficient data, asks the com- 
puter to verify his or her diagnosis. 

The completed program was tested at 
St. Vincent Hospital by the team of 
Karen Reichenbach '88, Carleen Mait- 
land '88, Natalie A. Lucas '88 and Joan 
Goodell, mother of Jim Goodell and an 
undergraduate at Worcester State 

The evaluation team used a variety of 
questionnaires to gauge patients' feel- 
ings about hospitalization and their suc- 
cess with and opinion of the videodisk 
program. They even used biodots — small 
chemical thermometers that attach to the 
skin— to measure the patients' stress lev- 
els while they played the video game. 

They found that the program does 
make patients who use it feel more pos- 
itive and less stressful about their hospi- 
tal stay, feel better about medicine in 
general and even develop better prob- 
lem-solving skills. They declared the 
project a success, though they suggested 
further development of the video pro- 
gram and additional field testing. 

This year, a new IQP team, working 
with Leonard Goodwin, will take on the 
task of expanding the testing program 
for the BODYWORKS videodisk. An- 
other team, consisting of Philip A. But- 
tacavoli '88, Barbara J. Grimm '88, 
Daniel O. Olsen '87 and Karen E. Val- 
entine '88, used the experience gained 
by the BODYWORKS team to complete 
a new interactive video program that 
simulates a chemistry laboratory taught 
at WPI. 


The stories of five 
WPI alumni and how 
their careers 
have helped change 
the face of 
modem medicine 


of a 


By Michael V. Shanley 
and Paul Susca 

IN THE LAST FEW DECADES, the practice of medicine 
has undergone a remarkable technological revolution. 

Lasers that substitute for scalpels in delicate operations, 
machines that probe the interior of the body with magnets 
and radio pulses, scanners that use high frequency sound to 
monitor fetuses or detect heart ailments, devices that help the 
disabled overcome the limitations of their impaired senses, 
mobile intensive care units that can carry a hospital's emer- 
gency room to accident victims in the field — medical practi- 
tioners today have an arsenal of new and sophisticated tools 
with which to practice their art. 

Here are stories of five WPI alumni who have made fun- 
damental contributions to this medical revolution. This series 
was reported by Michael V. Shanley of Princeton, Mass., 
and Paul Susca of Rindge, N.H., both frequent contributors 
to the Journal. 

SPRING 1988 

Dr. John J. Gregory '53 

Hearts Too 
Good to Die 

■ A woman in her 20s is 
trapped, bleeding and gasp- 
ing for breath, in the twisted 
wreckage of her car following 
a highway collision with a 
pickup truck. Rescue workers 
labor to cut away the mangled 
metal, but it may be an hour 
before she arrives at the 
emergency room. 

A construction worker in 
his 50s suffers cardiac arrest 
on the job and falls off a scaf- 
fold, breaking his arm. His 
co-workers rush to begin 
CPR, but he doesn't respond 
well and is bleeding from his 

Thirty years ago the out- 
look for these two patients 
would have been dim, per- 
haps hopeless. Many victims 
of trauma and heart attacks- 
patients with very little actual 
damage to the heart muscle — 
were dying en route to the 
hospital because most people 
didn't know about CPR, and 
because ambulance crews 
were not equipped to recog- 
nize and treat heart problems 
and other life-threatening 

The situation has changed. 
For one thing, says Dr. John 
J. Gregory '53, we know 
more about heart attacks. And 
since heartbeat "rhythm dis- 
turbances" are better under- 
stood, doctors have available 
drugs and other treatments for 
getting the heartbeat back to 
normal. But even more im- 
portant for such patients, who 
30 years ago would have died 
in the ambulance, is the prac- 
tice of taking intensive care 
"on the road." 

Gregory directs the Cardi- 
opulmonary Department at 
Overlook Hospital in Sum- 
mit, N.J., in addition to its 

mobile intensive care unit 
(MICU) program. Over- 
look's program is typical of 
many worldwide: A pair of 
emergency medical techni- 
cians (EMTs), equipped with 
a van full of medical and 
communications gear, are in 
effect able to bring the hos- 
pital's intensive care unit to 
victims, stabilizing them be- 
fore they are transported to 
the hospital. 

Gregory was instrumental 
in shaping Overlook's pro- 
gram, which is equipped to 
defibrillate (apply electric 
shocks to the chest wall to get 
the heart back to its normal 
rhythm), support the patient's 
breathing, treat serious bleed- 
ing and begin IV therapy. On- 
site treatment by EMTs is 
completely under the direc- 
tion of a specially trained 
physician at the hospital who 
keeps in constant radio con- 
tact with the emergency team. 
The radio hookup even sends 
the patient's electrocardio- 
gram (EKG) directly to the 

hospital's emergency room. 

Gregory didn't set out to 
specialize in emergency med- 
ical care. He studied chemi- 
cal engineering at WPI, then 
worked briefly at Hurlbut Pa- 
per Company in his home 
town of Lee, Mass., before 
joining the Navy. After being 
discharged from the subma- 
rine service, he attended 
medical school under the GI 
Bill. Four years at Albany 
Medical College were fol- 
lowed by an internship, resi- 
dency and cardiology fellow- 
ship at St. Vincent's Hospital 
in New York. Later, Gregory 
became assistant director of 
the hospital's Cardiology 

Co-author of the classic 
text Cardiology: A Clinico- 
physiological Approach, he 
has been involved in original 
research since his undergrad- 
uate days at WPI. As a med- 
ical resident at St. Vincent's, 
he participated in some of the 
early clinical work on the de- 
velopment of techniques for 
permanent pacemakers, and 
has conducted clinical work 
with pacemakers since then. 

In early 1964, he was one 
of several St. Vincent's phy- 
sicians featured in a Life 
magazine story that drama- 
tized the pioneering work the 
hospital was doing with the 
resuscitation of heart attack 

patients. At that time, bring- 
ing someone "back to life" 
after heart stoppage was 
nothing short of miraculous. 

Today he conducts research 
into the efficacy of various 
drugs used to reduce choles- 
terol levels and prevent heart 
attacks. And while he works 
to put mobile ICUs on the 
scene to save lives, he is also 
taking on the difficult job of 
helping doctors and families 
decide when not to resusci- 
tate patients. 

As a member of Overlook 
Hospital's bioethics commit- 
tee, Gregory has studied the 
DNR (do not resuscitate) pol- 
icies of other hospitals and 
drawn up guidelines to help 
doctors, in consultation with 
patients and their families, 
decide when a DNR order is 

"When [DNR policies] 
first started there were situa- 
tions in which patients had 
been treated extremely vigor- 
ously and were living in ICUs 
[intensive care units]. The 
fact that life could be sus- 
tained and prolonged by the 
use of respirators and various 
other technologies is what 
brought the ethical questions 
to the forefront," Gregory 

So the rapid advance of 
medical and bioengineering 
technology has given rise, di- 
rectly or indirectly, to the 
need for bioethics studies: "I 
think every hospital has to be 
very much involved in [bio- 
ethics] to be humane." 

There is more to bioethics 
than deciding when to say 
"enough" when life in an 
ICU may be worse than an 
end to life. The monumental 
cost of state-of-the-art medi- 
cal care and the issue of ra- 
tioning care are also of great 

"Here's another area," 
Gregory says, "where the 
technology has improved the 
potential for care, and yet it 
brings about cost— and ethi- 
cal—considerations that are 
very important." —Paul Susca 


Larry Israel '61 

High Tech 

for the Disabled 

B Larry Israel '61 couldn't 
have picked a better time to 
start his own company. After 
nine years at Xerox Data Sys- 
tems, he raised some startup 
capital among friends and as- 
sociates and, together with a 
neighborhood acquaintance, 
started a new company to 
manufacture electronic aids 
for the visually handicapped. 

It was 1971, and the nation 
had not yet awakened to the 
plight of the disabled. But Is- 
rael's partner was a scientist 
who had conducted federally 
funded research at the RAND 
Corporation aimed at apply- 
ing high technology to the 
problems of the disabled. He 
was interested in pursuing one 
of the results of that work— a 
system designed to help par- 
tially sighted people to read 
and write. 

With Israel as the business 
and marketing half of the 
team and his partner as the 
technical expert, they took the 

In hindsight, Israel scarcely 
realized how opportune his 
timing was. "There was re- 
ally no such thing as a high- 
tech product for disabled peo- 
ple until about 1970 or 1971," 
Israel says. That was soon to 
change. People were begin- 
ning to see, he says, "that 
disabled people are entitled to 
be treated as individuals, not 
to be labeled and stereotyped 
and branded because of some 
perceived— and usually mis- 
perceived— characteristics at- 
tributed to the group." 

The Rehabilitation Act of 
1973 and 1974 "established 
principles of nondiscrimina- 
tion based on disability that 
could be enforced in the 
courts," says Israel, who later 

One of Larry Israel's "sensory-medical" devices helps 
partially sighted people read by magnifying type. 

studied law and is now a 
member of the California Bar. 
More importantly for his 
business, the act also pro- 
vided money to help pay for 
products to aid the disabled 
in compensating for their 

When Israel started Visual- 
tek (now VTEK), much work 
still needed to be done on the 
device's read-write system. 
The RAND work, he ex- 
plains, did not provide a spe- 
cific system design, although 
it did demonstrate several key 
elements, among them the 
importance of a reverse im- 
age: white letters on a black 
background. It discovered 
that a moveable viewing table 
on which a book or paper 
could be placed was prefera- 
ble to a moveable scanner or 
camera. And it demonstrated 
that 16 millimeter camera 
lenses were better than fixed 
magnification because they 
enabled the system to be more 

Visualtek's first product, a 
read-write system comprising 
a video camera, monitor, 
moveable viewing surface and 
electronics for processing the 
image, was soon followed by 
a portable system. In the next 
17 years, Israel's company 
sold about 30,000 of the sys- 
tems to individuals, the Ve- 
terans Administration, state 
agencies, schools, libraries 
and nursing homes. They still 
had a long way to go: Of the 
estimated 500,000 legally 
blind people in the United 
States, 75 to 80 percent are 
partially sighted, according to 
Israel. "We suspect that at 
least half of them could ben- 
efit from our products, but 
there are other issues related 
to how motivated they are," 
he says. "For instance, many 
older people lose their sight 
after retirement and no longer 
have a need to use their sight 
for working." 

Since their introduction, Is- 
rael says, VTEK's read-write 

systems haven't changed very 
much conceptually, but the 
company has added several 
personal computer peripheral 
devices for the blind and par- 
tially sighted. One is essen- 
tially a computer monitor 
with print that is five to ten 
times the usual size. Others 
include a braille printer and a 
"paperless braille" computer 
monitor. Today, Israel says, 
VTEK is the "world leader in 
providing electronic aids for 
the visually impaired." 

Israel uses the term "sen- 
sory-medical" rather than bi- 
omedical to refer to his field, 
since the products don't af- 
fect or interact with biologi- 
cal functions. 

That distinction is more 
than a semantic one. Sen- 
sory-medical products, he 
says, cannot be tested in the 
same way as most biomedical 
technology. Biomedical prod- 
ucts can be tested using ani- 
mals, for example, but sen- 
sory-medical trials have to 
involve people. "If you look 
at most biomedical testing," 
Israel says, "the human be- 
ing who's going to benefit 
from it is a subject, rather 
than being a part of the solu- 
tion to his own problem." 

In addition to having a dif- 
ferent relationship with the 
users of the products, the 
sensory-medical field also has 
a different relationship with 
technology, one that may put 
sensory-medical applications 
on less-than-equal footing 
with other biomedical devel- 
opments. "The sensory-med- 
ical field doesn't get as much 
attention as biomedicine," Is- 
rael says "because there's not 
a clear marriage between the 
capabilities of technology and 
our human sensory mecha- 
nisms. The sensory mechan- 
isms are among the most dif- 
ficult areas of function for us 
to do something about." 

But that certainly hasn't 
stopped Israel from making a 
successful business from sen- 
sory-medical products. 

— Paul Susca 

8 SPRING 1988 

John T. Hart '65 

State of 
the Heart 

■ It looks a little like the 
robot R2D2 of Star Wars 
fame, this Hewlett-Packard 
portable ultrasound imaging 

And it's equally likeable 
and benign, helping as it does 
the elderly, the infirm and 
even the unborn. 

As much as anyone, John 
Hart '65 has been responsible 
for bringing this product, 
which provides doctors with 
clear, accurate images of 
blood flow in and around the 
heart, to the marketplace. 
Hart, director of research and 
development for the HP Med- 
ical Products Group in An- 
dover, Mass., oversees the ef- 
forts of 130 people who 
constantly refine and upgrade 
the imaging system. 

So far, their efforts have 
clearly been a success. HP 
has more than 50 percent of 
the country's cardiac imaging 
business and about 40 percent 
of the business worldwide. 
Since its introduction in 1981, 
sales have grown by an 
astounding 50 percent a year. 

The device that caused such 
dramatic change was slow to 
develop. "It took five years — 
and the equivalent of 100 
R&D man years — to bring the 
system to market in 1981," 
Hart says. The system uses a 
variety of specialized trans- 
ducers to detect even minute 
blood flow abnormalities. 
The original black and white 
model looks only at the heart- 
beat itself. As the system 
evolved, options such as 
Doppler capabilities (to de- 
tect blood velocity) and full 
color imaging were added. 
The colors allow doctors to 
make sophisticated determi- 
nations regarding such varia- 

bles as flow direction, rela- 
tive velocities and degrees of 

And that's just the begin- 
ning. "We keep finding new 
things to do with ultra- 
sound," Hart says. "The in- 
formation it's capable of pro- 
viding is amazing. I can see 
where we can add a lot more 
things to this technology over 
the next five to 10 years. 
Color flow is really just start- 
ing, and beyond that I see 3- 
D and the ability to charac- 
terize the tissue in the heart 
and elsewhere in the body. 
It's possible to sort the ultra- 
sound data to determine what 
class of disease a tissue 

A recently introduced HP 
system provides images of the 
carotids, the two great arter- 
ies of the neck. "If you have 
atherosclerosis, it's not only 
in your heart, it's also in your 
kidneys, and your arms and 
legs. It travels up to your ca- 
rotids and into your brain. 
There's a strong need to find 
out if the vessels leading to 
the brain are occluded." 

While the HP Medical 
Products Group's primary fo- 
cus since 1961 has been car- 
diology, Hart says such fields 
as radiology, vascular surgery 
and obstetrics are seen as 
sources of potential new busi- 
ness. "We feel we can take 
the ultrasound technology 
into those fields and make a 
contribution there too." 

The company's sale of 
medical products nationwide 
accounts for a little less than 
10 percent of its overall $8- 
billion business. That 
$750,000 million or so rep- 
resents the efforts of several 
related branches: ultrasound 

imaging, patient monitoring, 
diagnostic cardiology (EKG 
machines, for example) and 
obstetrical care. 

In addition to managing the 
ultrasound imaging R&D ef- 
fort, Hart is chairman of the 
R&D council for the entire 
medical products group. "It's 
my job to ensure that there's 
a synergy to the entire ef- 
fort," he says. 

Hart was recruited into the 
HP fold by Wilfred Houde 
'59. He had planned to get 
his master's at Yale, Hart re- 
calls, but Houde convinced 
him to give HP a try. 

"I hadn't even heard of HP 
at that time," Hart says, "but 
Wil convinced me. I signed 
on and they sent me to MIT 
to get my master's." 

After working his way up 
from the HP lab, Hart was 
selected to form and then di- 
rect the ultrasound group 
when it began to take off in 
the mid-1970s. 

Hart has now taken the re- 
cruitment effort full circle, 

serving as a member of the 
EE advisory committee and 
fostering the relationship be- 
tween HP and WPI. 

Returning to WPI, Hart 
found that EE Professor 
Reinhold Ludwig had an in- 
terest in ultrasound. HP is 
now sponsoring a dissertation 
at WPI aimed at furthering 
the development of new ultra- 
sound transducers, which are 
a key element in the produc- 
tion of high-quality images. 
They are also complex and 
difficult to build. 

"Dr. Ludwig and the doc- 
toral student are working to 
improve the performance of 
the transducers," Hart says. 
"Then when we spend the 
million dollars or so it takes 
to build a new one, we can 
be sure we will advance the 
image quality. It's a break- 
through program, so we pro- 
vide them with equipment 
and financial support. It's the 
kind of arrangement where 
both HP and WPI benefit." 
— Michael V. Shanley 

John Hart with ultrasound scanners undergoing testing. 
At Hewlett-Packard, Hart helped develop an imaging 
system that tracks blood flow to the heart. 

Lawrence A. Minkoff '69 

Where the Research 
Takes You 

■ Dr. McCoy, the sympa- 
thetic physician on "Star 
Trek," could diagnose almost 
any ailment in seconds with 
his hand-held body scanner. 
Exactly how the device 
worked was left to the imagi- 
nation, but today's biomedi- 
cal technology may suggest to 
some that "Star Trek" medi- 
cine is not so farfetched. 

Magnetic resonance imag- 
ing (MRI), developed by a 
team that included Larry 
Minkoff '69, already yields 
far more information about 
the body's internal state than 
physicians know how to use. 

Versatility has been the key 
to Minkoff's contributions to 
the biomedical engineering 
field. In high school he built 
a closed ecological system in 
his basement in which algae 
produced enough oxygen to 
support a mouse — sealed in 
an airtight fish tank— for 
more than a month. 

His undergraduate physics 
work at WPI focused on fish 
that use weak electric signals 
for sensing. His interest in bi- 
ology then took him to the 
graduate school of the State 
University of New York's 
Downstate Medical Center in 
Brooklyn, where he went to 
work on a Ph.D. in biophys- 
ics and physiology. 

Although there was a lab at 
Downstate involved in elec- 
tric fish research, Minkoff 
became more interested in a 
problem posed by Dr. Ray- 
mond Damadian, a physician 
pursuing an unconventional 
theory about ion transport in 
living cells. The accepted 
view held that a "sodium 
pump" in the outer mem- 
brane of a living cell con- 
trolled the ion concentrations 

of the internal fluid by ac- 
tively moving sodium ions out 
of the cell and potassium ions 
into the cell against their con- 
centration gradients. 

"When [Damadian] started 
studying ion transport in the 
cell, the question became, 
How are the ions bound 
within the cell? What holds 
them in there?" Minkoff re- 
calls. His initial work with 
Damadian showed that the 
sodium pump was not ther- 
modynamically feasible — in 
other words, cells just don't 
burn enough fuel to make a 
membrane pump work. 

The next step was to show 
that the "structure" of water 
molecules inside the cell was 
different from that outside the 
cell. For this the Downstate 
team used a technique well 
known to organic chemists, 
nuclear magnetic resonance 
(NMR), which provides in- 
formation on the chemical 
environment around the cell. 

Since it was widely known 
that cancer cells contained 

more potassium ions than 
normal cells, Damadian tried 
applying NMR to the identi- 
fication of these abnormal 
cells. It worked. From that 
moment, he was consumed 
with the idea of building a 
whole-body scanner that 
would use NMR to pinpoint 
and image cancers in human 
patients, a technique that 
came to be called magnetic 
resonance imaging (MRI). 

Minkoff was very much a 
part of that quest. He ob- 
tained the first crude image 
of a tumor in a mouse, an 
image that was chosen to ap- 
pear on the cover of the De- 
cember 24, 1976, issue of 
Science because it resembled 
a Christmas tree ornament. 
Minkoff also served as the 
guinea pig when the research 
team created the first image 
of a human chest. 

By collecting chemical in- 
formation about the body, 
MRI can differentiate be- 
tween normal and abnormal 
tissues, enabling doctors to 

identify tumors and other tis- 
sue alterations (hemorrhages, 
multiple sclerosis and so on) 
that could not previously have 
been detected in their early 
stages with other imaging 
techniques, including X-rays 
and CAT scans. 

Today, as executive vice 
president and director of 
FONAR Corporation, the 
company that Damadian 
formed to manufacture MRI 
scanners, Minkoff is actively 
pursuing research at New 
York's Beth Israel Medical 
Center. He has already dem- 
onstrated the value of nuclear 
magnetic resonance in objec- 
tively detecting conditions 
like emotional depression 
and premenstrual syndrome. 
Minkoff's research, which 
may prove useful in evaluat- 
ing treatments for those con- 
ditions, may be only the 
beginning of expanded diag- 
nostic uses for MRI. 

Minkoff sees automated di- 
agnostic techniques like MRI 
becoming increasingly im- 
portant in future medical 
practices. Some day, he says, 
a patient may be able to walk 
into a medical office and be 
scanned by an automated ar- 
ray of equipment that will 
then diagnose the problem 
and even prescribe treatment. 

New medical technologies 
like MRI can help make di- 
agnosis more accurate and ef- 
ficient, Minkoff says, but 
their reliance on nonmedical 
disciplines like nuclear phys- 
ics, electronics and computer 
science intensify the need for 
people with the multidiscipli- 
nary backgrounds. 

Another argument for ver- 
satility, Minkoff says, is to be 
able to "go where the re- 
search takes you." The land- 
mark success of the MRI 
team at Downstate was a con- 
sequence not only of their te- 
nacity but of their ability to 
shift from cellular physiology 
to the engineering of a mas- 
sive magnetic scanner— a gulf 
few scientists are able to 
bridge. —Paul Susca 

10 SPRING 1988 


Terry A. Fuller 72 M.S., 75 Ph.D. 

Light over 

■ Doctors at Sinai Hospital 
in Detroit had anesthetized a 
female patient for diagnosis 
of a reproductive problem that 
was causing infertility. By in- 
serting an endoscope, an in- 
strument used to look inside 
the body, they discovered that 
she had an adhesion that was 
blocking the Fallopian tubes. 

Under normal circum- 
stances, she would have been 
awakened, told of the condi- 
tion and re-anesthetized so 
that the doctors could make a 
large incision and remove the 
adhesion. The result would 
have been a long hospital stay 
and a large bill. 

"Instead, we made a minor 
incision, and used one of my 
experimental laser fiberoptic 
procedures to remove the ad- 
hesion right then and there," 
says Terry A. Fuller, presi- 
dent of the Fuller Research 
Corporation of Vernon Hills, 
111., a worldwide leader in the 
research and development of 
infrared transmitting fiber 

"In human terms, she was 
saved the trauma of major 
surgery and was home within 
24 hours of treatment. In fi- 
nancial terms, our procedure 
cost about $1,500, versus the 
$8,000 or $9,000 it would 
have cost using traditional 

Fuller, who is considered 
one of the leading researchers 
in the field of laser medicine, 
developed many of the medi- 
cal procedures that are being 
used in state-of-the-art laser 
surgery today. He holds one 
major patent with four others 
pending, and is the editor and 
co-author of the book Surgi- 
cal Lasers: A Clinical Guide. 

Among his many accom- 

plishments was the introduc- 
tion of what's known as an 
Nd:Yag laser to the treatment 
of uterine bleeding, which 
won him an award from the 
American College of Obstet- 
rics and Gynecology. 

Fuller's interest in laser 
medicine started at WPI, 
where he earned master's and 
doctoral degrees in biomedi- 
cal engineering, the latter in 
1975. He took that interest 
with him to Sinai Hospital, 
where he became involved in 
the use of ruby lasers to treat 
eye diseases. 

In 1976, after winning a 
number of grants from the 
National Institutes of Health 
and other agencies, he formed 
the Laser Surgery and Photo- 
biology Institute at Sinai. 
Over the next eight years, he 
turned it into the largest sur- 
gical laser facility in the 
world, both in terms of clini- 
cal procedures and research 

He left the hospital in 1979 
to form his own company, 
Medlase, which sold carbon 
dioxide (CO,) and ruby lasers 
to the research and clinical 
communities. He also began 
developing fiber optics for 
use with C0 2 lasers. He was 
so successful that in 1984 he 
formed Fuller Research Corp. 
to commercialize the fibers. 
Fuller Research, a joint ven- 
ture with Abbott Laborato- 
ries, a $4 -billion health care 
company, developed the only 
fiber in the world that can 
transmit energy from a C0 2 
laser through an endoscope. 

Fuller says the laser "elim- 
inates the need for a major 
incision to reach a diseased 
site in the body." For exam- 
ple, to remove a tumor inside 

the bladder, laser light can be 
directed along a fiber inserted 
through a cystoscope to va- 
porize the tumor. Thus far, 
that procedure has been used 
only on animals, and on hu- 
mans only through a normal 
incision, but Fuller is gearing 
up for clinical use by the end 
of this year. 

He believes that within five 
years there will be a $60-mil- 
lion-a-year market for de- 
vices that perform such 

While laser surgery has be- 
come more widespread in re- 
cent years, the introduction of 
Fuller's new fibers will in- 
crease applications in such 
fields as gynecology, otolar- 
yngology (ear, nose and 
throat), urology, orthopedic 
surgery and cardiovascular 

Fuller Research currently 
operates with a staff of 17, 
including engineers in such 
fields as optics, materials en- 
gineering, physics, electron- 
ics, biophysics and mechan- 
ics. The company's 8,000- 
square-foot headquarters has 
optics, chemistry, fiber proc- 
essing, electronics and pol- 
ishing labs. 

"Our intent right now is to 
expand our production capac- 
ity so we can meet the com- 
ing demand for these dispos- 

able fibers and for the fiber 
logic controller, a device that 
connects existing C0 2 lasers 
to our fibers so people don't 
have to go out and buy a new 
laser," Fuller says. 

Later this year, Abbott 
Laboratories will be handling 
Fuller Research's initial mar- 
ket entry. After that, Fuller 
says, the company will be 
looking to expand the surgi- 
cal applications of its fibers 
and, since they can detect 
heat energy as well as trans- 
mit it, exploring their use as 
sensing devices. 

"My real love is clinical 
research," says Fuller, who 
still spends at least half his 
time in the lab. "I get turned 
on by the application of en- 
gineering and physics to 
medicine, and I really enjoy 
seeing my devices and pro- 
cedures used in the way that 
they are." 

Fuller remains on the staff 
of Sinai Hospital, as well as 
Ravenswood Hospital in Chi- 
cago, and is a faculty mem- 
ber at Northwestern Univer- 
sity. He hopes one day to 
teach full time. "As much as 
I love industry— and the last 
four years have been the most 
exciting of my career — I re- 
ally miss the frequent contact 
with grad students." 

— Michael V. Shanley 


By Michael V. Shanley 

Biotechnology Meets the 

The founders of the 
Research Park 
wanted to build 
a vehicle that would 
cruise into the 
21st century — 
under its own power. 

Worcester dentist 
Abraham Haddad 
was a driving force 
behind efforts to 
build the park. 



t's an impressive list of acronyms: 
CBI and, in the middle of it all, 

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Re- 
search Park is off and running, but un- 
less you're involved in the action, you'll 
need a scorecard to identify all of the 

What the list of names and letters adds 
up to, however, is a unique biotechnol- 
ogy venture. With its combination of 
city, state and federal support; profit and 
nonprofit agencies; and commercial and 
educational goals, the park is an exam- 
ple of what can be accomplished when 
disparate groups with common interests 
band together to battle the forces of bu- 
reaucracy, skepticism and the status quo. 

What many called an unrealistic dream 
now consists of one gleaming research 
laboratory/office building (with a second 
under construction and a third on the 
drawing board), a fully operational 
Magnetic Imaging Center and, under 
construction, a hotel that will house a 
restaurant, retail space, a bank and other 
business services. 

But more impressive than the real es- 
tate development, more impressive even 
than the willingness of premier start-up 
companies to cast their lot with Worces- 

ter, is the extraordinary cross-fertiliza- 
tion of ideas that is taking place. It's 
what science and engineering are sup- 
posed to be all about. The Biotechnol- 
ogy Park is truly a visionary enterprise, 
a testimony to the foresight and perse- 
verance of a diverse group of Worcester 
residents. And from the beginning, WPI 
has been a part of the effort. 

To understand what the park is 
today, it's important to go back 
to the beginning and hear the 
story of the park that could easily have 
died, but simply wasn't allowed to. 

"The park is the brainchild of the 
Worcester Business Development Cor- 
poration (WBDC), an arm of the local 
Chamber of Commerce," explains Abra- 
ham W. Haddad, a Worcester dentist 
credited by many as being a driving force 
behind the park effort. (Other key fig- 
ures include John Hunt and Paul O'Con- 
nell, each of whom served as WBDC 
president, and Wyman Gordon chairman 
Joseph Carter.) 

It all began, Haddad says, when a 
blue-ribbon panel of community leaders 
from business, politics, health care and 
education convened in the early 1980s to 
look at the role Worcester, with its di- 
verse industrial base, 10 colleges and 

universities, several research and teach- 
ing hospitals, and 35,000 students might 
play in the science and technology of the 

The panel, whose members included 
former WPI president Dr. Edmund T. 
Cranch, unanimously agreed to pursue 
the establishment of some sort of re- 
search park. 

It's no coincidence, Haddad notes, 
that colleges and universities nationwide 
jumped on the technology transfer/inno- 
vation center bandwagon seven or eight 
years ago. "It was about then that the 
licensing and patent laws changed re- 
garding federally funded research." The 
changes enabled researchers and their 
institutions to participate in royalties 
and licensing agreements with fewer 

"So when we approached the Worces- 
ter institutions, there was a definite elec- 
tricity in the air, because they realized 
the opportunities," he adds. The WBDC 
then committed its resources to strategic 
planning and self-assessment. Represen- 
tatives from the panel visited research 
parks throughout the country. They re- 
alized that, since their park would be 
smaller than many, they would have to 
find a niche. Given the strengths of area 
institutions in the life sciences, biotech- 

12 SPRING 1988 

Perpetual Motion Engine 

nology was the obvious choice. 

"We zeroed in on the University of 
Massachusetts Medical Center as the 
hub," continues Haddad, "with research 
institutions like WPI, the Worcester 
Foundation for Experimental Biology, 
Tufts University Veterinary School, 
Clark University and Holy Cross as 

When organizers began to look at 
common interests, they were surprised 
to find that area businesses, hospitals 
and academic institutions were already 
conducting between $70 and $100 mil- 
lion worth of research. 

Haddad and others came to realize that 
one ingredient was missing: neutral 
ground where scientific entrepreneurs 
could come together to share expensive 
equipment, pursue industrial liaisons and 
apply their research. While Worcester 
was moving ahead with its agenda, Mas- 
sachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis 
was in the process of establishing the 
Massachusetts Centers of Excellence 
Corporation (MCEC) to maintain the 
state's competitive edge in emerging 
technologies. Because of Worcester's 
groundwork, it became the focus of the 
state's biotechnology efforts. 

This tie-in became crucial as the 
Worcester Business Development Cor- 
poration began to pursue ownership of 
the proposed site for the park, a choice 
100-acre tract of surplus state land ad- 
jacent to the Medical Center. The land 
was owned by the center and Worcester 
State Hospital, but the governor's office 
worked to transfer ownership for a nom- 
inal sum. 

It was a long, tiring process, one that 
presented the proposed park with its first 
major obstacle when the trustees at the 
State Hospital filed a lawsuit to block 
the transfer. Worcester State lost the suit, 
but the battle dragged on for more than 
two years. 

Despite the delays, WBDC had been 
proceeding with its plans. "We decided 
to create several magnets to attract com- 
panies here," Haddad explains. 

The major magnet was to be a state- 
of-the-art shared instrumentation facility 
for new companies that couldn't afford 
to buy expensive equipment. The second 
would be an incubator that would pro- 
vide hands-on management and scien- 
tific consulting. 

"We realized that with biotechnology 
you couldn't just go into a garage and 
come up with a new company, like you 
could in the '70s with computers," Had- 
dad says. 

Another magnet that was already in 
place was the Worcester area itself. With 
its research institutions, affordable hous- 
ing, central location, cultural offerings 
and fine school systems, Worcester could 
hold its own in the competition to lure 
new firms. 

Also among the attractions was a City 
Council-approved set of regulatory ordi- 
nances based on NIH guidelines. While 
other cities and towns were tying re- 
searchers' hands with confusing and 
constraining ordinances, Worcester es- 
tablished a set of clear-cut, up-to-date 

The cornerstone of the Worcester ef- 
fort was a desire to create what Haddad 
calls a "perpetual motion engine." 
"Money would continually be re-in- 
fused into the system, and that's vital, 

since the technology changes so 

This concept was the beginning of the 
Massachusetts Biotechnology Research 
Institute, the non-profit board set up to 
oversee the scientific and intellectual de- 
velopment of the Park. MBRI members 
include representatives from area re- 
search institutions (including WPTs 
president, Dr. Jon C. Strauss), the 
Chamber of Commerce and local 

"From viewing other research parks, 
though, we found that a key to survival 
was going proprietary early on," contin- 
ues Haddad, who is now president of the 
MBRI board. "So while we originally 
wanted to keep it all nonprofit, it was 
driven home to us that an intense entre- 
preneurial posture was only possible by 
adding a for-profit element." 

So were planted the seeds of what is 
now Commonwealth Bio Ventures Inc. 
(CBI), a company that combines the fi- 
nancing of a venture capital firm with 
the management resources and low-cost 
rental space of a business incubator. CBI 
is largely owned by MBRI. In return for 
its services, Commonwealth Bio- 
Ventures takes a percentage of the start- 
up companies being funded. 

The state helnpH establish CBI, in the 

President Jon 
Strauss predicts 
WPI's ties to the 
park will increase. 


idling the Limits 
of a New Technology 

AT THE FAR END OF THE ROOM sits a six-foot-tall mag- 
net that looks for all the world like a massive mechanical 
doughnut. A student slides a "phantom" that simulates a 
human brain into the magnet's cavity and, like iron filings 
under the pull of a child's horseshoe magnet, atomic nuclei in 
the phantom align with the magnetic field. 

Twenty feet away, a researcher types a command on a com- 
puter keyboard. Inside the magnet, pulses of high frequency 
radio waves probe the phantom. With each pulse, the magne- 
tized nuclei absorb the radio energy, then relax, sending radio 
waves back to receivers in the magnet's cavity. 

From this subde interaction of magnetic field, radio waves and 
"brain," a computer assembles and paints on a high-resolution 
monitor a detailed image of the phantom's internal structure. 

The technique is called magnetic resonance imaging, or 
MRI, the latest and most powerful imaging technology avail- 
able for medical diagnosis. At the Massachusetts Biotechnol- 
ogy Research Park's Magnetic Imaging Center, Stephen C. 
Moore, associate professor of biomedical engineering at WPI, 
and Dr. Michael A. Davis, a researcher in the Department of 
Radiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, 
are stretching the limits of MRI. 

Unlike conventional X-ray machines and CAT (computer- 
ized axial tomography) scanners, which use penetrating radi- 
ation to probe the density of the body, MRI employs a com- 
bination of a powerful magnetic field and radio signals to 
produce amazingly detailed images of the body's soft tissues. 

"MRI is much better than conventional X-rays at detecting 
soft tissue lesions," Moore says. "While CAT scanning did 
make it possible to better visualize some of the subtle differ- 
ences between soft tissue, the sensitivity of MRI is generally 
much higher. For example, MRI can easily detect multiple 
sclerosis plaques, something that is more difficult with CAT." 

MRI can also reveal a great deal about the chemical and 
electrical states of the atoms and molecules in the body's 
tissues— information that can help radiologists locate tumors 
and other abnormal types of cell growth. 

With a research team that includes four WPI graduate stu- 
dents and six undergraduates, Moore and Davis are looking 
for ways to improve a host of medical imaging systems, in- 
cluding MRI, nuclear medicine and more conventional X-ray 

One of the projects currently underway is aimed at using 
MRI to measure noninvasively the velocity of body fluids, 
such as blood and cerebrospinal fluid. 

Stephen Moore 
(left) and Michael 

The team will also study ways to compensate for image 
artifacts that are produced by certain types of tissue and to 
improve the signal-to-noise ratio in MRI images, making it 
easier for physicians and technologists to see the vital infor- 
mation they contain. 

In another project, Moore and Davis are evaluating a new 
class of bifunctional chelates made by Viomedics Corpora- 
tion, a Biotechnology Research Park tenant, that may make 
tumors stand out more clearly on MRI images. 

Despite their rapidly evolving research efforts in MRI, 
Moore and Davis are relative newcomers to this imaging tech- 
nique. Davis, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees 
in chemistry from WPI, launched the collaboration in 1987 
when he convinced the state of Massachusetts to obtain a 
research magnet for the proposed MRI center at the Biotech- 
nology Park. WPI is currently providing the space in the 
center for a laboratory and hired Moore, an expert in such 
medical imaging techniques as nuclear medicine and CAT, to 
develop a research program from within the college's Biomed- 
ical Engineering Program. 

This summer, the laboratory will move into a new research 
wing at the imaging center. The new space will include a 
chemistry and electronics laboratory and offices. In this ex- 
panded laboratory Moore and Davis will continue to test the 
limits of MRI, a technique which may be capable of telling 
physicians more about the state of the human body than any 
other diagnostic tool now available. 

"There is still a lot of unexplored territory in MRI," Moore 
says. "The promise may prove to be more than the reality, but 
I think there's a lot more to be discovered about this 

sense that the Massachusetts Centers of 
Excellence Corporation financially sup- 
ported the MBRI effort to develop a ve- 
hicle for technology transfer. "Again, 
we were trying to meld private, indus- 
trial, state and academic interests. It was 
a delicate operation," says Haddad. 

CBI, which really got under way last 
year, was the final Worcester magnet. 

In the spring of 1986, construction 
began on the Park's three-story, 
75,000-square-foot first building, 
One Biotech Park. 

"WBDC had lined up a consortium of 
10 banks that provided construction and 
land development financing," explains 
Raymond L. Quinlan, MBRP executive 
director and the man in charge of attract- 

ing tenants and overseeing construction. 
"The city had provided off-site improve- 
ments, and the state eventually awarded 
us a $l-million grant to fund on-site 

WBDC had millions of dollars in- 
vested in the project, but no tenants yet 
committed. A deal with Integrated Ge- 
netics fell through when the Fra- 

14 SPRING 1988 

■ * 

mingham firm decided the building 
wouldn't be ready soon enough to suit 
their needs. 

Making matters worse, an expected $1 
million grant from the federal govern- 
ment kept being delayed. 

While the WBDC's public posture was 
one of confidence during this period, 
Haddad admits it was a trying time: "We 
always believed in what we were doing, 
and that we would ultimately be success- 
ful, but there were a few cliff-hangers." 

The story, of course, had a happy end- 
ing. Late in July 1986, Cambridge 
BioScience Corporation (CBC), a highly 
respected medical products firm, signed 
an agreement to lease 50,000 square feet 
of space. Not surprisingly, CBC chair- 
man Gerald F. Buck cited several of the 
Worcester "magnets" in explaining the 
firm's decision. 

A few months later the park had its 
second major tenant when Viomedics, 
Inc., a start-up company concerned with 
new approaches to the treatment and di- 
agnosis of such diseases as cancer and 
arthritis, signed up for 6,000 square feet. 

With the ice broken and more inquir- 
ies coming in, plans accelerated. In the 
late summer of 1986, construction be- 
gan on the Magnetic Imaging Center, a 
project run by a nonprofit consortium of 
Worcester hospitals. Soon thereafter, de- 
sign work and marketing began for Bio- 
tech Two, the second laboratory build- 
ing. At the same time, plans were 
announced for the hotel complex. 

Today, all the acronyms are thriv- 
ing. CBC has completed clinical 
trials on a five-minute antibody 
test kit for AIDS. Pending FDA ap- 
proval, the company plans to introduce 
the test commercially later this year. 
Work also continues on development of 
an AIDS vaccine, as well as on other 
products that detect and prevent human 
and animal infectious diseases. Several 
WPI graduate students have spent time 
working at CBC. 

CBI, under the leadership of Robert 
G. Foster (hired following a nationwide 
search headed by President Strauss), has 
established its $5-million limited part- 
nership to invest in new biotechnology 
companies over the next year. (WPI is 
the only institution to invest as a limited 
partner.) The first company to receive 
financing is Transgenic Sciences, Inc., 
which will conduct research into produc- 
ing disease-resistant poultry and, ulti- 
mately, into the application of transgenic 

"Nowhere else is there such 

concentrated research in 


technologies to the treatment of human 
genetic diseases. 

Massachusetts Centers of Excellence 
has provided about $500,000 in grants 
to MBRI for personnel, facilities, shared 
equipment and program operations. 
MCEC also provides direct grants to re- 
searchers throughout the state. 

The Magnetic Imaging Center is in its 
second year of operation. It houses both 
a diagnostic clinic and a research facility 

Spiros Theodoropuios founded Viomedics, 
which became the park's second tenant. 

that use magnetic resonance imaging 
(see sidebar). 

Viomedics continues its research into 
diagnostic reagents to be used in the 
treatment of diseases. Among current 
projects are the development of new im- 
aging techniques for various organs, and 
therapeutic drugs for the treatment of 
rheumatoid arthritis and tumors. Com- 
pany founder Spiros Theodoropuios has 
established ties with the MIC and WPI 
biology and biotechnology chairman Jo- 
seph Bagshaw. 

If the concern was once whether or 
not there would be enough tenants to fill 

the park, the problem now is meeting 
the demand. 

"We figured it would take us 10 years 
to complete the park," says Quinlan. 
"But we're well ahead of that timetable. 
If we have a problem, it's that things are 
happening too fast. Biotech Two is al- 
most completely 'called for,' so we've 
hired an architect to begin design on 
Biotech Three. It's a pleasant problem 
to have, but it is a problem." 

The WBDC's magnets notwithstand- 
ing, there is another reason why Worces- 
ter is attracting firms. 

"Nowhere else is there such concen- 
trated research in biotechnology," says 
Quinlan. "Scientists have to stay cur- 
rent, especially in this field. And to do 
that, they need to be part of a research 
environment, and have access to aca- 
demic institutions." 

Haddad notes the wide scope of area 
life science research. "We have every 
level of research applications in the hu- 
man life sciences, from the molecular 
level to animal resource facilities to the 
human populations at the hospitals." 

Now that CBI is up and running, 
MBRI has redefined its role. In addition 
to being Worcester's representative in all 
matters concerning the park, it also op- 
erates a nonprofit innovation center that 
supplements CBI's efforts. 

"When a scientist simply has an idea 
and needs the space and the funds to 
pursue it, that's where MBRI will come 
in," says Haddad. "It's a homegrown 
approach, because we anticipate that 
some of these ideas will spawn start-up 
companies that will one day be housed 
in the park." 

Adds Quinlan, "Right now, most of 
the money coming in goes toward pay- 
ing off our debt and funding future 
growth. But at some point three or four 
years down the road, the park will begin 
to show significant profits — maybe $3 or 
$4 million a year — and that money will 
be invested back into the efforts of 
scientists through MBRI." 

This is part of the perpetual motion 
engine the park's founders had foreseen. 
And while the engine is still being put 
together, it's already beginning to purr. 
MBRI has awarded its first grant— to 
WPI biology and biotechnology Profes- 
sor Daniel Gibson (see sidebar). 

"There's no doubt that our ties with 
the park will increase," says President 
Strauss. "As the park and CBI mature, 
the rewards will flow through MBRI, 
and there will be more grants like the 


one Dan has. In addition, our faculty 
will be involved with the companies be- 
ing seeded by CBI." 

As Haddad looks to the future, he too 
is upbeat, and refers again to the perpet- 
ual motion concept. "By the year 2000, 
there may be a new technology, and the 
park will shift its emphasis. That's why 
we've fought to maintain an R&D atti- 
tude. We want the park to constantly 

regenerate itself, replenish its occu- 
pancy, spin out people to satellites in 
other parts of the state where there are 
mature manufacturing levels." 

While plenty of dollars have changed 
hands as the project has gotten off the 
ground, it was unpaid work that actually 
created the park— the hours of free labor 
and brainstorming donated by Worcester 
scientists, educators, community leaders 

and businesspeople as they nudged it 
from dream to reality. 

They rolled up their sleeves to put this 
engine together, and they can take tre- 
mendous satisfaction in watching it hum 
down the highway, picking up speed with 
each passing mile. 

Mike Shanley is a frequent contributor 
to WPI Journal. 

Modem Science Meets 
the Living Fossil 

Daniel Gibson extracts blood from a horseshoe crab. 

IT IS ESTIMATED that horseshoe crabs have been quietly 
foraging along the New England coast for 225 million years. 
Only recently have these ancient relatives of spiders encoun- 
tered a serious threat to their existence. 

Today, along the beaches and marshes of Cape Cod, they 
are killed by clam diggers, who see them as competition, and 
chopped up by eel fishermen, who say they make excellent 
bait. And in the laboratories of a small Cape Cod company, 
scientists collect their blood. 

It was just a decade ago that researchers discovered a re- 
markable property of horseshoe crab blood. When exposed to 
any sort of gram-negative bacteria, amoeba-like cells in the 
blood set off a clotting process that rapidly turns the crab's 
blood to jelly. This primitive immune response helps the crab 
seal off wounds and ward off bacterial infection. 

Because the blood cells react to all gram-negative bacteria— 
a class of microorganisms that cause a significant share of 
human ills — they can be used as an excellent probe for the 
presence of bacteria in medical devices, including dialysis 
machines, and food processing equipment. 

The largest use, however, is in the screening of injectable 
drugs for bacterial contamination, where the only alternative 
is testing with rabbits, a much more expensive procedure. 

Associates of Cape Cod now makes a powdered extract from 
horseshoe crab blood called LAL (Limulus Amebocyte Ly- 
sate). To make the extract, the company collects blood from 
large, mostly female crabs in the spring when they come 
ashore to mate. 

After they are bled, the crabs are returned to the ocean, 
apparently without harm. Still, since bleeding began, scien- 
tists have observed a significant drop in the horseshoe crab 
population off the Cape. The cause of this decrease is not 
known, according to Daniel Gibson, associate professor of 
biology and biotechnology at WPI. While the impact of the 
clammers and eel fisherman, along with natural population 
fluctuations, cannot be discounted, the long-term effect of 
removing the often egg-laden crabs from their natural environ- 
ment during the breeding season is not well understood. 

That is why Gibson has been working with a team of under- 
graduate and graduate students on a method of culturing the 
blood cells of the horseshoe crab in the laboratory. Last year, 
Gibson received a $20,000 grant from the Massachusetts Bio- 
technology Research Institute, the first grant ever awarded by 
this research arm of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Re- 
search Park, to continue this work. 

If a stable culture can be developed, Gibson says, the mak- 
ers of LAL would have a year-round supply of blood cells 
without the need to bleed crabs. This hope has fueled many 
efforts over the last decade to culture the blood cells. About 
four years ago, Gibson tried to duplicate the results of some 
apparently successful efforts only to discover that what most, 
if not all, of these researchers had grown was not blood cells 
but a form of marine yeast. 

Through trial and error, Gibson was able to establish a stable 
culture of amebocytes, but he could not get the cells to grow 
and divide. He decided that the solution was to culture not the 
cells themselves but the tissue that manufactures the blood 
cells — the crab's "bone marrow." 

Working with teams of undergraduate students completing 
their Major Qualifying Projects (MQPs), Gibson began the 
hunt for this tissue, which had not previously been identified. 
He developed a method in which dissected crabs are infused 
with antibodies that have an affinity for the crab blood cells. 
Next, a second antibody, one that clings to the first antibody, 
is added. Attached to this second antibody are tiny balls of 
gold. Under an electron microscope, the gold balls serve as 
beacons, highlighting the exact position of the blood produc- 
ing cells. 

While initial work with this method was under way, Gibson, 
working with an ordinary light microscope, observed what 
appeared to be the blood-cell-producing tissue. He extracted 
the tissue and was able to get it to grow. Further work will be 
needed to see whether the new cells in the culture will mature 
into LAL-producing blood cells. 

In the meantime, Gibson is talking with Commonwealth 
Bioventures Inc., the Biotechnology Park's incubator, about 
the potential for turning the results of his research into a new 

16 SPRING 1988 

Lessons from not long aj 

When Neil Arm- 
strong walked on 
the moon on a 
summer Sunday in 
1969, American television 
viewers were vividly aware 
that they were witnessing a 
thrilling milestone in history. 
So they may be momentarily 
surprised to learn that their 
children and grandchildren 
perceive that triumphant event 
as little more than a grainy 
photograph in a textbook. 
They may wonder, too, when 
their offspring ask, "What 
was it like to live in the 

More students are posing 
that question, partly as a re- 
sult of college history courses 
that teach and interpret recent 
events. While such classes are 
still mainly products of the 
interest of individual teachers 
rather than of 

Courses on recent history ^r* _* 
offer controversy, context, "" 
and a challenge: _ 

teaching contemporary events _, 
to students who know 
little of the past — "Z.~"~ 


changes, their popularity 
among students who are of- 
ten poorly grounded in his- 
tory of any era shows that the 
courses are having some suc- 
cess. And the courses show 
the influence of a generation 
of instructors who chose 
teaching as a profession dur- 

ing the '60s, and who regard 
the study of recent events as 
a chance to pass on a sense 
of social and democratic re- 

Today's students have been 
characterized by the press as 
"conservative"— more likely 
to vote Republican, more ea- 

ger to join the corporate es- 
tablishment, less willing to 
take an activist stance. In the 
classroom, that conservatism 
can translate into a passive at- 
titude toward events and a 
disapproving, even hostile, 
view of social change. 

To these students, "the 
world started the day they be- 
came conscious of being a 
human being, maybe when 
they were 14," says Patrick 
Dunn, professor of history at 
Worcester Polytechnic Insti- 
tute (WPI). "Anything out- 
side their narrow range, or 
what happened before then, 
has no bearing today." As a 
result, Dunn has great diffi- 
culty with this group in pre- 
senting the '60s as a period 
of social transformation. 
"They don't recognize what 
society was like before the 
'60s," he says. "I try to get 
at it by contrasting what WPI 
was like then — a preplanned 
curriculum, Saturday classes, 
suits and ties, no women on 
campus. They don't realize 
that the society they live in 
now is something vastly dif- 
ferent; they just take it for 
granted that it was that way 
and will always be that way." 

Such an attitude is upset- 
ting to teachers both as his- 
torians and as shapers of citi- 
zens. Teaching recent history 

Images from the Vietnam 
era— a B-52 raid (1966) and 
a Berkeley rally in memory 
of students killed at Kent 
State (1970)— haunt a gen- 
eration. Yet "for the current 
undergraduate, the war has 
become another historical 
event, like World War II," 
says CWRU's Morrell Heald. 

MAY 1988 I 

What history books have concluded 
about their own times 

HOW LONG does it take historians to decide what events are 
important and what they mean? On the following pages are 
passages from histories written within a few years of the 
events they cover. They are seen through the filter of the 
interests, obsessions, and prejudices of each period. 

gives them the opportunity to 
show students that the rela- 
tionship between individual 
behavior and history is ever- 
evolving, a responsibility the 
teachers treasure. 

Recent history— roughly 
the period after World War 
II — is not just a valuable area 
of study in itself, but a way 
of promoting interest in his- 
tory as a whole. Christianna 
Nichols is an instructor in po- 
litical science at Western 
Maryland College (WMC) 
who teaches a class in mod- 
ern and contemporary Euro- 
pean political movements, in- 
cluding those of the Soviet 
Union. "The enticement," 
she points out, "is that the 
course sounds modern, and 
suddenly all this stuff in 
TIME about glasnost and per- 
estroika is going to come to 
life." But then, she notes, 
"People in my class will ask, 
'Why are we talking about 
Czarist Russia in the 12th 
century?' " and that gives her 
the opening to talk about the 
panorama of events across the 

There will always be misty 
areas in any adult's memory 
where the lessons they've 
studied in history books leave 
off and the awareness of the 
era they've lived through be- 
gins. And there are genera- 
tional differences between 
those who grew up in the 
shadow of overwhelming 
events— the Depression and 
World War II— and current 
students, born in the late 
'60s, whose world may seem 
to be a more diffuse collec- 
tion of influences. Teachers 
praise in today's students 

what they see as a global per- 
spective, a greater awareness 
of the diversity of culture. 
Television has tremendously 
aided that wider outlook. "I 
didn't have a world view 
growing up," says Albert 
Dorley, assistant professor of 
history at Villanova Univer- 
sity. "What came over the 
television were cute shows. I 
wasn't watching the war in 
Vietnam in living color." 

The availability and vivid- 
ness of worldwide TV news 
is still no competition, how- 
ever, for the profound impact 
great events have had on those 
who lived through them. 
"The generations of the '30s 
and '40s had the experiences 
of the Depression, which 
formed a drive toward a uni- 
fied national identity, and 
World War II, which brought 
about the highest level ever of 
national unity," says Lou 
Athey, professor of American 
history at Franklin and Mar- 
shall College (F&M). 

By contrast, the events of 
the last 40 years are a bewil- 
dering catalog of crises — so- 
cial, political, international, 
and economic. The longing 
for a common generational 
experience may explain, in 
part, the baby boomers' cur- 
rent fascination with the 
1960s as they search for a 
cultural identity in one of the 
most contradictory of 

The knowledge gap of cur- 
rent students stems not just 
from how much there is to 
know about the present but 
from how little they know 
about the past. Without back- 
ground—a sense of history as 

a story, with identifiable 
plots, subplots, and themes — 
they have no context in which 
to place recent events. A 
common complaint of teach- 
ers is that their charges are 
bright and hardworking, but 
lack their parents' firm foun- 
dation of historical narrative 
and facts. 

Two trends in the 1960s and 
'70s help explain the mystery 
of the weakened foundation. 
One was the expansion of the 
curriculum to include more 
than the traditional "great 
white men"; the other, a new 
emphasis on teaching practi- 
cal "skills" rather than 
names, dates, and places. 

Few would dispute the 
value of the former. Tradi- 
tional survey approaches, 
such as the "presidential syn- 
thesis" of American history, 
stressed politics and war, di- 
viding the centuries into pre- 
cise four-year chunks of 
"events." But for the first 
time, revised curricula added 
the stories of women, Afro- 
Americans, American Indi- 
ans, and immigrants, as well 
as social and cultural move- 
ments. American history be- 
came more complete, but also 

more complex. 

Some teachers are con- 
cerned that in the great vari- 
ety of themes and perspec- 
tives, crucial facts and a sense 
of the sweep of history may 
have been lost. Students 
"aren't drilled and disci- 
plined as to historical proc- 
ess, time bars, what occurred 
when, the sequence of 
events— all that is com- 
pressed and confused," says 
Villanova's Dorley. "There 
might be a bit of overstress- 
ing of social and cultural 
events, taking society as a 
whole rather than looking at 
changes and developments." 

But most teachers are 
equally critical of the "back- 
to-basics" method popular- 
ized by, among others, Allan 
Bloom (author of the best- 
selling The Closing of the 
American Mind). Lowell 
Gustafson, assistant professor 
of political science at Villa- 
nova, calls it a "cafeteria ap- 
proach." "There is no agree- 
ment on broad and sweeping 
issues," he says. "It's kind of 
a computer-age version of 
what cultural literacy is. It re- 
minds me of my high-school 
history teacher filling the 

WPI's Patrick 
Dunn must chal- 
lenge students ' 
when he teaches 
about the Soviet 
Union under 
Stalin. "Some- 
where they've got- 
ten this idea that 
he was paranoid," 
he says. And they 
want to cling to it, 
even after Dunn 's 
detailed lecture on 
Stalin 's objectives 
and Soviet politics 
of the period. No 
matter if students 
get sketchy infor- 
mation from text- 
books or TV, Dunn 
says, "the point is 
to make sense of it 
for ourselves." 



blackboard with names from 
Hammurabi to Nixon; if we 
could identify them all, then 
we supposedly knew some- 
thing about the forces that 
shaped history." 

In the '60s and '70s, "it 
became very fashionable to 
focus on questions," adds 
Con Darcy, professor of his- 
tory at WMC. Texts of the 
period badgered student read- 
ers with "topics for discus- 
sion" as a way of engaging 
student interest: "What do 
you think an average mer- 
chant would have thought 
about the Declaration? A 
wealthy landowner? An arti- 
san?" More recent texts, 
Darcy believes, divide his- 
tory into specialized parcels 
at the expense of necessary 
information: "You look at a 
textbook and there's a para- 
graph given to Lincoln and a 
paragraph to Woodrow Wil- 
son. These little units on 'The 
Women of the Second World 
War' are fine, but let's have 
that in addition to the basic 

The minds of many older 
Americans are attics in whose 
nooks and crannies the arti- 
facts of their national history 
are stored away: carpetbag- 
gers, Teapot Dome, the May- 
flower Compact, the XYZ 
Affair, Manifest Destiny. But 
to many contemporary stu- 
dents, it's all a jumble; their 
trunks have never been filled 
with history's treasures. At 
WMC, Nichols has only been 
teaching college for a few 
years, but notes that since her 
days as a graduate student the 
' ' lack-of-background ' ' prob- 
lem has been getting "incre- 
mentally worse and worse. 
You assume they know about 
intellectual currents, and they 

The approach emphasizing 
"life skills" at the expense of 
presenting history as part of 
an engaging narrative has 
come under special criticism 
from the chair of the National 
Endowment for the Humani- 
ties. Lynne V. Cheney, in the 

Political turmoil and famine 
in Africa have drawn stu- 
dents to Con Darcy 's class 
at WMC, where he tries to 
counter "Hollywood images 
of Tarzan or King Solo- 
mon 's mines " with the rich 
heritage of African 
traditions and achievements. 
Right: Fleeing tear gas at a 
1980 protest in Soweto, 
South Africa. 

Students "have no idea that [China's] 
Cultural Revolution was coincidental 
with events in the United States and 
France in '68," adds Dunn at WPI. 
Left: Parisian barricades, June 1968. 

1987 report American Mem- 
ory, wrote about how in the 
teacher's guide to a popular 
textbook series, "Scores of 
skills to be taught are set 
forth: everything from draw- 
ing conclusions and predict- 
ing outcomes to filling in 
forms and compiling re- 
cipes." Yet, she emphasizes, 
"The cultural content of 
learning, on the other hand, 
is given only brief mention." 

Focusing on recent history 
can be valuable in capturing 
the attention of students who 
in high school were turned off 
to history in general. Those 
who have no strong feelings 
about the Civil War may at 
least gain a sense of the im- 
portance of the war in Viet- 
nam. Villanova's Dorley, for 
example, says students sign 
up for his popular Vietnam 
course because "their parents 
were there, or their parents 
are still talking about it. The 
war is still a very big issue 
because of its impact on do- 
mestic and foreign policy." 

Teachers of recent history 
welcome the opportunity to 
fill in the knowledge gaps of 
their students, even though 
the effort is time-consuming. 
When Nichols talks to her 

Western Maryland class about 
changes in the Communist 
Party since 1917, she runs 
back and forth between 
blackboards, one of which 
has a diagram of the system 
in 1917, the other the current 
one. "You have to constantly 
tie them together," she says. 
But she admits, "it would be 
much easier if the basic his- 
tory knowledge were there. In 

my Latin American class, we 
have to go back and talk about 
Incas and Aztecs before we 
can talk about terrorists in 

Lack of background among 
today's high-school students 
is an equally serious problem 
for teachers throughout the 
humanities. Assistant Profes- 
sor of English Kent Ljung- 
quist offers a survey course in 

Reconstruction (1865-77): 
system grew insufferable" 

'The scandal of the 

POLITICAL RECONSTRUCTION was carried out accord- 
ing to the plan of Congress. . . . Ostensibly the negro was 
master of the States; but his utter ignorance, incapacity, and 
credulity made him the dupe and tool of white adventurers 
from the North, nicknamed Carpet-baggers, who, in alliance 
with some apostate Southern whites, nicknamed Scallywags, 
got the Southern governments in to their hands. ... At last 
the scandal of the system grew insufferable, military protec- 
tion was withdrawn from the carpet-bagging governments, 
which fell, and the whites were enabled to reinstate them- 
selves in power. They did not fail practically to disfranchise 
the negro. ... So it is still. The negro at the South enjoys, 
as a rule, personal and industrial rights which the war won 
for him, but is excluded from political power. From social 
fusion and equality he is, if possible, further than ever, since 
concubinage has become rare, and there is an end of the 
kindly relations which sometimes subsisted between master 
and slave . . . 

The United States, An Outline of 
Political History, by Goldwin Smith (1893). 

MAY 1988 III 

Desegregation: "So drastic a social revolution" 

THE MOST MOMENTOUS action on a domestic problem 
was taken not by Congress or the President but by the judici- 
ary. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously, on May 17, 
1954, that the long-established "separate but equal" school 
facilities granted to Negroes violated the 14th Amendment. 
The Court fortunately indicated that so drastic a social revo- 
lution as desegregation would have to be worked out gradu- 
ally. Dixieland hotheads violently resented this invasion of 
states' rights, but most Southerners showed a disposition to 
grapple with the problem slowly and sanely. 

The historic decision of the Supreme Court was widely 
hailed as the greatest victory for the Negro since Emancipa- 
tion. An intermingling of the races had already occurred with 
unexpected success in the armed services. Now destined for 
the schools, it would lift from the Negroes the psychological 
blight of being set apart as creatures inferior. The United 
States could henceforth hold its head up more proudly as the 
Land of the Free, and give the lie to Communist agitators 
who insisted that America was committed to holding the Ne- 
gro perpetually in the ditch. 
The American Pageant, by Thomas Bailey (1956). 

American fiction at WPI. In 
it, he tries to "teach novels 
almost as case studies of the 
way in which certain political 
developments were trans- 
formed into fictional terms. 
Ten or 15 years ago, you 
might not have had to do that 
because you might have taken 

Woodstock typifies a student 
view of the '60s as the era 
of hippies and drugs. Yet, 
says Dunn, "the only thing 
that comes through from 
the '60s in good shape is the 
music. There are still people 
out there who like the Doors 
and Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. 

it for granted that the students 
had a reservoir of historical 
knowledge to call upon." 

Ljungquist has found that 
the most popular works re- 
main those that, like J.D. Sal- 
inger's Catcher in the Rye, 
stress timeless themes of in- 
dividual experience and 

growing up. He has had less 
luck with novels like Going 
After Cacciato (in which Tim 
O'Brien works fantastic, fic- 
tional variations on the Viet- 
nam War) or even those that 
assume familiarity with the 
mood or culture of an earlier 
decade. "Especially with so 
many writers of the '60s and 
'70s, popular culture be- 
comes part of their fiction," 
Ljungquist says. "In Updike 
novels, people watch TV; 
he'll be writing about a per- 
son observing a particular 
historical event, and if the 
students don't know what that 
event is, then obviously 
there's a difficulty getting 
across what Updike's up to." 
Teaching fiction does pro- 
vide a chance, however, to 
raise political and moral ideas 
that students might otherwise 
resist. "If you teach an essay 
that has a polemical point to 
it, the student won't accept it. 
But if you teach a novel that 
has pretty much the same 
point or theme behind it, then 
suddenly they approach the 
subject with a greater degree 

Robert Frost's reading at JFK': 
inauguration is "impressed 
on my memory forever," 
says WPI's Kent Ljungquist. 

of flexibility," Ljungquist 

Park Goist, professor of 
history at Case Western Re- 
serve University, teaches a 
class on social values in re- 
cent American drama. He be- 
lieves that drama, even more 
than fiction, provides a level 
of engagement that helps stu- 
dents overcome their preju- 
dices. "It's specifically Amer- 
ican material," he says, "but 
it raises eternal moral 

Some courses turn up 
again and again in cat- 
alogs, either because 
they respond to areas 
of current national interest 
(Latin America, Africa, the 
Middle East) or because they 
are of perennial concern (the 
Cold War, U.S. -Soviet rela- 
tions, racial and religious is- 
sues). Often, the most current 
topics are found in the politi- 
cal science department, since 
the discipline relies in part on 
analyzing systems rather than 
on making historical judg- 
ments. "In comparative poli- 
tics, we have models of Com- 
munist systems or European 
systems," says WMC's Ni- 
chols. She teaches about 
Great Britain under Margaret 
Thatcher, for example, be- 
cause Thatcherism "has been 
around almost 10 years, is a 
definite movement, and has 
radically altered the system." 
The problem for historians 
is in deciding what trends or 
events from the infinitude of 
a particular year or decade are 
the significant ones. Many 
people can remember from 
their own textbooks what now 
seem like ludicrous over- 
sights or predictions; only 
hindsight is able to select the 
little streams that become riv- 
ers. A 1966 text, Contempo- 
rary America, emphasized 
the economy, labor conflict, 
the Cold War, and civil rights 
as the major themes of the 
'60s. Vietnam receives a brief 
mention under the heading of 
"brush fires" around the 


Take out a blank sheet of notebook paper . . . 

How many of the following names, 

quotes, and events look familiar? There are five terms 

from each of the last four decades of American history. Extra credit: How close can you 

get to the actual year each event happened? Answers on page VII. 

1 . the Great Society 

11. U-2 

2. Apollo-Soyuz 

12. SALT II 

3. "We're eyeball to eyeball . . 

13. PATCO 

4. the safety net 

14. "I have here in my hand 57 cases . . ." 

5. SCLC 

15. the Warren Report 

6. Gramm-Rudman 

16. 38th parallel 

7. Gulf of Tonkin 

17. "There you go again." 

8. 444 days 

18. Little Rock Central High School 

9. the great silent majority 

19. CREEP 

10. Proposition 13 

20. Bikini Atoll 

world, and the chapter ends 
rather optimistically with a 
description of President John- 
son's "New Society" pro- 
grams. But within a few 
years, black urban neighbor- 
hoods had erupted into vio- 
lence, Vietnam had become a 
full-fledged war, and John- 
son's reforms has been up- 
staged by even more radical 
social and political move- 
ments. By 1977, the text The 
National Experience devotes 
an entire chapter to the 1960s 
as "Years of Revolt," stress- 
ing themes of alienation and 
social conflict and tracing the 
history of America's gradual 
entanglement in Southeast 

Even within the '70s, 
events are beginning to sort 
themselves into piles of either 
the anecdotal or the signifi- 
cant. President Carter's par- 
doning of Vietnam War draft 
dodgers, a major event of the 
time, is now largely forgot- 
ten, while his failure to se- 
cure the release of U.S. hos- 
tages in Iran — a political 
disaster that may have influ- 
enced the 1980 election — is 
now viewed more as a failure 
of personality than of policy. 
What Christianna Nichols' 
political science students are 
learning about Carter are the 
sweeping effects of his hu- 
man rights policy, which con- 
tributed to the fall of several 
Latin American dictatorships. 

Since views of events 
change so quickly, how can 
historians presume to teach 
about those not yet sorted 
out? The problem is probably 
no worse than in the disci- 
pline of history as a whole. 
Yet someone who 40 years 
ago studied U.S. history- 
learning of presidents, poli- 
tics, and wars— would find 
today's survey courses aston- 
ishingly different, encom- 
passing decades of progress 
in teaching social history 
through such topics as slave 
culture, the women's suffrage 
movement, the effects of im- 
migration, or the history of 
the family. 

But teachers of contempo- 
rary history don't claim to be 
handing down the definitive 
view of the events they cover. 
While highly praised text- 
books already exist on topics 
like the Vietnam War, courses 
on contemporary history rely 
on a tremendous variety of 
source materials, among 
them, newspaper articles, 
first-person accounts, tapes, 
and oral narratives. WMC's 
Con Darcy introduces his 
class to contemporary Afri- 
can culture through African- 
produced films. Morrell 
Heald, professor of American 
studies and history at CWRU, 
brought to his class a gradu- 
ate who is a Vietnam vet and 
a counselor of fellow veter- 
ans, and another speaker who 

heads a Cleveland Vietnam- 
ese organization. F&M Eng- 
lish Professor Anthony Ugol- 
nik has students interview and 
profile Vietnam vets and 
takes the class on a field trip 
to the Vietnam Memorial in 
Washington, D.C. WPI's 
Dunn gives his students read- 
ings from the diaries of 
American soldiers who inter- 
vened in the Russian revolu- 
tion in 1918. 
Such materials introduce an 

intensity and interest far be- 
yond the reach of textbooks 
and, with it, a problem: point 
of view. "I think it's essential 
that the students learn to an- 
alyze critically any book or 
article, whether it's on the 
left or the right," says WPI's 
Dunn. "I run into a problem 
in that the best textbooks in 
Russian history, and some of 
the best on Cuba, are written 
by emigres who have a far- 
right opinion. Then, some of 
the best stuff on Iran is writ- 
ten by American critics on the 
left. I don't teach my stu- 
dents that any of these is the 
definitive interpretation." 

Wildly divergent points of 
view can be disquieting to 
students raised on commit- 
tee-approved textbooks. "So 
many come to college after 
reading these Dairy Queen 
homogenized products," says 
Darcy. "Some of them are 
going to react very strongly." 

"I use the diary of a person 
who lived in Cuba during the 
Castro years," says Villa- 
nova's Gustafson. "One day 
I said that I liked a lot of what 

The 1960s: "Cults appeared among the young" 

MOST BORN AFTER 1940 spent their childhood under rel- 
atively comfortable circumstances. . . . Life in the child- 
centered suburb was undemanding and defined the important 
goals in terms of good performance in the schools. . . . The 
prospect of the inadequate and unworthy challenges of the 
life ahead was distasteful to boys and girls starved for affec- 
tion, who felt themselves lone wolves remote from everyone 
else. . . . 

Childhood in the slums, and particularly in the Negro ghet- 
tos, lacked the ease and comfort of the suburbs and often 
lacked also the guidance of close family life and the disci- 
pline of the father. An upbringing like that of Malcolm X in 
such an environment quickly generated hostility to society, 
and the furious aggressions of adolescence found few legiti- 
mate channels of expression. . . . 

From time to time cults appeared among the young, center- 
ing upon some symbol that indicated repudiation of author- 
ity—James Dean in the movies, Mickey Spillane in the pulps, 
or the Beatles on records — saying no to the solemn nonsense 
of the rulers of the world. Eccentric styles of behavior or 
dress flouted convention so widely in the 1960s that they 
themselves became conventional, and the uniform of the 
Beatnik was everywhere recognizable. 
The History of the United States (textbook), 
by Oscar Handlin (1968). 

MAY 1988 V 

was discussed in the book but 
didn't like this or that. Many 
of the students had a shocked 
expression that a professor 
would be so silly as to disa- 
gree with a book he had 

Professors also run into two 
very different types of preju- 
dices that students bring with 
them to the classroom. The 
first — preformed political op- 
inions—is often welcomed. 
"People come to my class 
with a rather hardened and 
enthusiastic position that is 
not particularly well-in- 
formed," says Gustafson of 
his course on Latin American 
politics. "That's an advan- 
tage of teaching the type of 
course I teach. For whatever 
reason — because they despise 
American policies or they de- 
spise the Sandinistas— they 
come motivated." 

Teachers sometimes even 
wish for more dissension than 
they get. "I was a little puz- 
zled by their attitudes ini- 
tially," says Heald of the stu- 

Villanova 's Albert Dorley 
cautions that "history has 
parallels, but it doesn 't re- 
peat itself. " Right: near 
Saigon, 1967. 

dents in his Vietnam course. 
"What brought them to the 
class was that they had been 
hearing about the war for 
years and didn't really know 
much about it. They didn't 
see it as a controversial sub- 
ject. With one or two excep- 

The Vietnam War: "Prolonged propaganda 
wears out the credit of governments" 

THE UNITED STATES WAS ABLE to wage a war halfway 
around the globe. But officially it could not tell its own peo- 
ple the truth. As the war dragged on, the Saigon government 
became more and more dictatorial. . . . 

So the statement that we were "defending democracy" in 
Vietnam became even more hollow. Yet American officials 
continued to repeat that plainly untrue statement. Prolonged 
propaganda eventually wears out the credit of governments 
with their own people. And the armed forces, too, once con- 
sidered guardians of honor, fell into the habit of untruthful- 
ness. Time and again, officials would announce that the gov- 
ernment now controlled most of the countryside and that 
there was a "light at the end of the tunnel." 

.... It was small wonder that the average soldier, the 
"grunt" at the bottom of the heap, became demoralized. He 
was fighting a war against an invisible enemy, was sur- 
rounded by what seemed to him ungrateful "natives," and 
was criticized by many war protesters at home. He was led 
by generals who often seemed interested only in image mak- 
ing, not in protecting him. By the thousands, therefore, sol- 
diers in Vietnam took drugs, dodged regulations, and diso- 
beyed their officers. The war was beginning to destroy the 
American army by 1968. 
Pathways to the Present: 
A New History of the United States (textbook), 
by Bernard A. Weisberger (1976). 

Criticized for his handling of the economy and the 
Iran hostage crisis, President Carter is cited in 
Christianna Nichols ' WMC political science class 
for his diplomacy in Latin America. Left: Carter 
with Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel in 1978. 

tions, there were not strong 
views expressed; none at all 
on the pro-war side. What 
they showed was quiet 

The second kind of preju- 
dice students harbor is more 
dangerous: a perspective of 
history as a constantly im- 
proving, organized sequence 
of events in which the United 
States is always a force for 
good. "I think they have a 
very linear view, and see any- 
thing that deviates from that 
as being caused by drugs or 
hippies or weirdos or revolu- 
tionaries," says Dunn. "Their 
main line of thought is that 
things are getting better, and 
if they're not, it's because 
people don't act in the proper 

" I see it more in the in- 
ternational arena: Students 
might be thinking, 'If people 
in Africa would work hard 
and think rationally like us, 
everything would be better.' " 

F&M's Lou Athey adds 
that this attitude is not just 
true of history: "Our students 
also assume a kind of inevi- 
tability of technological pro- 
gress. When you transfer that 
construct to social issues, 
there is a belief that clearly 
everything will be solved in 
time. We live in the modern 

age, with the assumption that 
this age is better than any 
other time." 

History teachers— espe- 
cially those who concentrate 
on the past few decades — see 
such complacency as one of 
their main targets. Their 
hopes for success may de- 
pend on what many report as 
an ambivalence among stu- 
dents toward social change, 
epitomized by current student 
attitudes about the 1960s. 
While their parents are caught 
up in the nostalgia of TV pro- 
grams like "The Wonder 
Years," students are wrestling 
with two very different views 
of that decade: one, that it 
was a hippie-dominated era of 
drugs and dropping out; the 
other, that it was a time of 
great excitement and involve- 
ment, one they might have 
enjoyed experiencing. Often 
the student who passes up po- 
litical activism to study hard 
and get into business school 
is the same one who rum- 
mages in her parents' base- 
ment for Dylan records and 
tie-dyed shirts. 

Lou Athey has taught an 
oral history course in which 
he focuses on a different 10- 
to- 15 -year period each se- 
mester. When his class stud- 
ied the '60s, he says, "there 


were students who wanted to 
discount the hippie experi- 
ence as having been a mini- 
mal factor" in the social 
change the decade produced. 
He sees the reaction as part 
of an "absolute and utter re- 
jection of critiques of existing 
social structures." When he 
assigned a class Looking 
Backward, 2000-1887, Ed- 
ward Bellamy's 1888 novel 
describing a future socialist 
Utopia, he says "half the class 
was furious at it. One paper 
attacked it and used language 
not proper to a paper." Yet at 
the same time, he has had 
students express great interest 
not only in the '60s but in the 
Civil War. "It's the intensity 
of involvement and conflict 
between the two nations, the 
very high level of commit- 
ment, that interests them," he 
says. "I think many would 
like to have lived then." 

Particularly for instructors 
educated in the '60s, the in- 
terest shown by students in 
current history provides an 
opportunity to challenge, if 
not change, students' com- 
placency. "As long as stu- 
dents, and people in general, 
don't explore the last 20 
years, they tend to take the 
pronouncements of authority 
as fact. Rarely does a leader 
deliberately mislead," WPI's 
Dunn believes, "but if peo- 
ple haven't critically exam- 
ined these events or cultural 
trends, then there's no basis 
for them to question what 
they hear. Then what do de- 
mocracy and freedom of the 
press mean?" 

Of his teaching, Dunn says, 
"There's some evidence that 
there is an impact. The way I 
look at it is that I have one 
shot at it; that's what I came 
here for. If I can see a visible 
change, a sensitivity and a 
willingness to entertain pos- 
sibilities—that's the best I can 

Julia Ridgely is assistant edi- 
tor of the Alumni Magazine 


There are no grades for this test, just some excuses: How well you did probably has less 
to do with how hard you studied in high school than when you were born or how you were 
taught history. 

1. President Johnson's term for a package of social and welfare programs, including 
civil rights and aid to the poor and elderly. (1964) 

2. Docking of American and Soviet spacecraft in the first international manned space- 
flight. (1975) 

3. "... and I think the other fellow just blinked." Comment made by Secretary of State 
Dean Rusk during the Cuban missile crisis. (1962) 

4. Reagan administration term for programs that would save the "truly needy' 


budget cuts. (1981) 

5. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights groups founded by 
the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1956) 

6. Congressional act to force federal budget reduction, later struck down in part by the 
Supreme Court. (1985) 

7. Gulf where North Vietnamese torpedo boats were said to have attacked American 
warships. The resulting resolution by Congress granted the president whatever power 
necessary to "maintain peace." (1964) 

8. Length of time 52 American hostages were held in the embassy in Tehran by Iranian 
revolutionaries demanding the return of the Shah. (1980-81) 

9. Middle-of-the-road Americans whom President Nixon claimed had elected him and 
continued to support him. (1971) 

10. California property tax referendum considered an opening volley in the tax-cutting 
movement. (1978) 

11. American spy plane shot down over Russia. Pilot Francis Gary Powers was later 
exchanged for a Soviet spy. (1960) 

12. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks at which President Carter and Soviet Premier Brezh- 
nev agreed to a limit on ICBMs. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty after the 
Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. (1979) 

13. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. The entire membership was fired 
when President Reagan enforced a law against unionization by federal employees. (1981) 

14. Sen. Joseph McCarthy's claim in a speech at Wheeling, W.Va., that he had evidence 
of 57 "known Communists" in the government, the first time he had emphasized such a 
claim publicly. (1950) 

15. The report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, 
concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone. (1964) 

16. Border between North and South Korea. After North Korea invaded across the line, 
President Truman ordered in U.S. troops, the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Korean 
War. (1950) 

17. Remark made by presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in the campaign debate with 
President Carter. Reagan believed his opponent had just misrepresented his views on 
national health insurance. (1980) 

18. Arkansas high school where President Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce 
integration over the objection of Gov. Orval Faubus, who had called out the state's 
National Guardsmen. (1957) 

19. The Committee to Re-Elect the President, President Nixon's campaign organization 
later accused of being behind the Watergate burglary. (1972) 

20. Pacific island destroyed during the first hydrogen bomb test. (1956) 

MAY 1988 VII 

VCRs, and 
of food and 
words are 
designed in 
part to 
save time. 
But how do 
we spend all 
those seconds 
we saved? 


Back in the summer of '72, 
when only three in a hun- 
dred American homes 
boasted a microwave oven, 
a friend extolled the mar- 
vels of his new culinary 
appliance. "I cook dinner in 10 min- 
utes—a baked potato, too," he crowed, 
"then I sit back with my remote controls 
and watch my TVs." 

"TVs?" I asked. He had three in his 
living room, one for each of the major 
networks. During commercials, he sam- 

The modern age is 
hardly the first to 
worship efficiency. 
In this 1880s 
scheme, the urge to 
expand the day, re- 
duce work, and slip 
in more leisure time 
is taken to an ex- 
treme: The device 
offers relief from 
summer's heat by 
simultaneously fan- 
ning the body, 
cracking nuts, and 
serving wine. 

pled other channels: "I hate to waste my 

The man was— just slightly— ahead of 
his time. Today, two in three American 
homes have microwaves. And televisions 
equipped with split-screen capabilities 
end what one catalog calls "the frustra- 
tion of single-channel viewing." Ours is 
a nation dedicated to the proposition of 
saving both time and our own energy, at 
work and at home. It's only human: "To 
save labor in work and in the many other 
activities of daily living has been the 

supreme aim and proud achievement of 
modern civilization," wrote Stanford 
University economist Tibor Scitovsky in 
The Joyless Economy. "The saving of 
effort," he went on to note, "usually 
goes hand in hand with the saving of 

In a certain sense, you can't save even 
a second. In the annual phenomenon 
known as daylight-saving time, an hour 
snatched away from the public each 
spring is returned, without interest, six 
months later. But it's more nearly day- 


The chore of laundry, origi- 
nally hand-and-foot pow- 
ered, was made easier by 
machines and then was 
taken out of the home alto- 
gether—for those who 
could afford it. 

light-withholding time. Every day, no 
matter what your time zone, everyone 
gets exactly the same number of hours 
to spend. Meanwhile, time marches on. 
Which is why the 45 minutes you 
"save" by popping a potato into the mi- 
crowave instead of an oven can't be 
added to your personal account at the 
First National Bank of Hours. It can't 
sit there, quietly earning additional min- 
utes, or even seconds, until the happy 
day when you finally have the energy, 
but need to borrow the time, to embark 
on a long-planned project. In real life, 
the time you save doing one thing goes 
immediately into doing something else— 
or nothing else. 

Timesavers have always been with 
us, although some have worked 
better than others. Start some- 
where near the beginning of civilization, 
with roughly shaped bits of flint— the 
multipurpose gadgets of the Stone Age. 
Then fast forward thousands of years to 
the city of Pompeii. In its post- Vesuvius 
ruins, archaeologists uncovered house- 
wares, including vegetable strainers and 
shallow pans for frying. Except for their 
handcrafted bronze construction, they 
would be at home in a contemporary 

Zoom ahead again, this time to the 
Industrial Revolution, when the human 

drive to create more efficient ways of 
working slammed into overdrive. Indus- 
trial technology took manufacturing out 
of the home and into the factory, sepa- 
rating production from "housework." 
(The word itself didn't appear until the 
19th century.) 

Suddenly the mechanics of daily liv- 
ing — tasks that had required essentially 
the same amounts of time and effort for 
centuries— were transformed. By the first 
years of the 20th century, most urban 
homes in the United States had tap wa- 
ter. Indoor plumbing was gaining 
ground, along with electricity and cen- 
tral heating. Unpredictable stoves fueled 
by wood or coal gave way to gas models; 
electric ranges would be next. Tele- 
phones, vacuum cleaners, electric irons, 
and rudimentary washing machines had 
appeared. Refrigerators were about to 
become less expensive and more 

Inventions didn't always make com- 
mon household tasks easier. According 
to a study published in 1917, almost all 
women living in households "earning 
enough for decency" had help with their 
laundry, either sending it out or bringing 
a laundress in. But what had been a two- 
woman job became relegated to one. 
While the advent of the automatic wash- 
ing machine did take the back-breaking 
labor out of doing laundry, it also meant 
families could have more clothes, 
washed more often. 

In an industrially driven society, each 
new household invention, from irons to 
bagel slicers, added to the already strong 
climate of expectation that time can — 
and should— be saved. 


There's no economy in Irvine tn do 
•work by hand, that can be better done by 
machinery. "Blue Monday" with its 
steam, soap suds, and hot-stove nui- 
sances uan be avoided, and you can save 
time, temper, and in ney by sending the 
family washing to us. 

Try it. We can surely satisfy you. 
Phone 312. Our wafifon will call. 

Snowflake Laundry 

Americans bought that message, 
and in increasing numbers, they 
also purchased the items, from 
major appliances to minor gadgets. A 
few examples: In 1952, less than 4 per- 
cent of American homes had clothes 
dryers; by 1984, 61 percent did. In 1952, 
3 percent had dishwashers; in 1984, 38 
percent. During the 20 years ending in 
1975, the percentage of homes with vac- 
uum cleaners went from 59 to 97 per- 
cent. More people were buying smaller 
appliances— blenders, food processors, 
automatic coffee makers, electric can 
openers. The consuming continues, 
fueled by promises of "new, improved" 

Some of the improvements are more 
gimmicky than genuine — shaving off the 
odd second here and there rather than 
doing away with a truly onerous task. Or 
they perform superfluous jobs. An elec- 
tric ice-cream maker churns out a gour- 
met treat in minutes, but when you buy 

MAY 1988 IX 

Baskin-Robbins, you don't have to clean 
the machine— which, unlike your bowl 
and spoon, probably can't be popped in 
the dishwasher. 

Then there's the multi-speed electric 
blender. When the first model reached 
the market in the 1920s, it had just one 
speed ("on" as opposed to "off"). In 
the 1950s, the two-speed ("high" vs. 
"low") blender appeared. A decade 
later, the liquidizer wars began in ear- 
nest. By the early '70s, the victorious 
models had 16 "speeds," although an 
industry executive would later admit, 
"At most there was a 100 rpm differ- 
ence between one speed and another— 
virtually indistinguishable." But as an- 
other executive pointed out, "The more 
buttons, the better they sold." 

Other devices don't always live up to 
the promise of their ads. Look at food 
processors. More than half make their 
way into kitchens as gifts, according to 
Consumer Reports. Once set up at the 
back of the counter, they seldom get as- 
sembled, unassembled, and cleaned for 
daily tasks; it's simpler to use a knife 
and cutting board. And if you want to 
open a can (although gourmet take-out 

and frozen/microwavable dishes are 
more in vogue), a manual can opener 
remains essentially as efficient as an 
electric one. 


o more machines mean less time 
spent on the daily work of living? 
A mid- 1975 study showed that 

A self-powered pump shower let you exercise while bathing. But necessity 
may not have been the mother of invention for this baby bather. 

mothers who work outside the home have 
the fewest leisure hours of any segment 
of the population. That should come as 
no surprise to anyone who falls into this 
category. Although they may own more 
timesavers, today's women aren't the 
housekeepers their stay-at-home mothers 
were. The devices simply help them tend 
to the basics — feeding and clothing their 
families— while working full-time jobs. 

Executives and other professionals 
who routinely put in 50-plus hours oni 
the job, working schedules that rival i 
those of pre-union sweatshops, also want 
to get lots of things done — and quickly — 
at home. To those whose large salaries- 
are a constant reminder that time is 
money, timesavers become a symbol off 
status, a declaration that you have more j 
money than time. Witness the class off 
efficiency-minded devices devoted to | 
having fun, or otherwise doing what pre- 
sumably you want to do. 

Baking bread is a good example. Not i 
too long ago, store-bought bread was 
viewed as a marvel ("Wonder" Bread 
was aptly named). Today, baking bread I 
has become a luxury: for many people, 
the lengthy process is as enjoyable as the 
end product. But what if you have other I 
things to do? Enter a device which, in i 
the words of a Williams-Sonoma cata 
log, "not only mixes and kneads bread I 
dough, but also lets it rise for just the 
right length of time — and then bakes the 
loaf! All you have to do is measure the 
ingredients into the non-stick container, 
put the yeast in the dispenser in the lid, 
and switch it on. Four hours later, you i 
remove a fragrant loaf. ..." (Your first 
homemade loaf will cost you — not in- 
cluding the flour and yeast — approxi- 
mately $300.) 

Exercise is another good example. A 
machine simulating the aerobic workout 
of cross-country skiing is geared to peo- 
ple who don't have the time to go "glid- 
ing across a snow-covered hillside." In- 
stead, an hour a week is all it takes. 
Among the promised — if somewhat du- 
bious—benefits: "You'll find you can 
work longer, with less fatigue." 

For certain consumers, time is worth 
so much that they keep working even 
when they're at home, aided by a new 
class of gizmos, many of which wouldn't 
have been necessary even 20 years ago. 

In 1987, when TIME magazine sent 
new subscribers a booklet on time man- 
agement, it listed five devices that 
"might make an enormous difference to 
your productivity." Those five — VCR, 


GfBdt 9'ZHIOS! They're chic. They gleam. They even talk and | tell time. 

Why are some gadgets best- 
sellers, while others quietly 
expire long before their patents 
run out? To judge by those mail-order 
catalogs geared to buyers with no time 
for stores, auxiliary features mean as 
much as efficiency. 

First and foremost, the perfect gadget 
mustn't get in the way. Appliances 
from radios to coffee makers to cord- 
less mixers no longer vie for space on 
a crowded countertop; instead, they 
hang above it. If this trend of upward 
mobility continues, the perfect gadget 

The Ajax 

will soon have to be redesigned for use 
far from the madding crowd, back on 
the countertop. 

The ideal gadget has several, simul- 
taneous uses. Some contemporary appli- 
ances make a certain sybaritic sense: a 
machine that makes drip coffee, 
espresso, and steamed milk for 
cappuccino comes in handy when enter- 
taining; another coffee maker pauses 
after the first cup so the caffeine addict 
needn't wait until the whole pot is 
brewed. Then there's the under-the- 
cabinet, electric can opener lit by its 
own electric light — presumably to make 
it easier to check the contents of the 
can for incipient botulism. 

Whatever else it does, the perfect 
gadget gives users the time of day — in 
digital readout. That feature isn't a 
frill, because the gadget does its task 
automatically, according to pre-pro- 
gramming or reacting to your instruc- 
tions from across the room, over the 
phone, or via another machine. No 
more pressing an index finger against 
an electronic touch control. Rather than 
responding by word-prompt display, the 
ideal gadget speaks. A new home auto- 
mation system, for example, delivers 
its lines in the proper tones of a British 

The Hercules 

Last but not least, there's the matter 
of appearances. Right now, sleek effi- 
ciency is in. The more frivolous the 
gadget, the more serious the look. 
Finishes are matte black, smooth 
white, or gleaming chrome. Stream- 
lined curves are evidence that even a 
motorized, under-the-counter spice 
rack is a working machine (it even goes 
in both directions, the ad points out). 
It is, of course, the D-cell-powered heir 
to the Industrial Revolution (batteries 
not included). 

personal computer, telephone answering 
machine, speaker phone, and speed- 
dialing — are all instruments of commu- 
nication and information that are now 
increasingly creeping into the home. 

Three of those five tackle telephone - 
related problems. Answering machines 
promise the "convenience" of ignoring 
interruptions from the outside world 
while satisfying your curiosity about 
who is calling. Speaker phones keep 
your hands free for working at other 
tasks. Speed-dialing takes touch-tone 
dialing one step further: by pushing a 
button you dial your most frequently 
called numbers. It makes the rotary dial 
a digital dinosaur. 

Leisure is seen as something that can 
always be done faster. The TIME book- 
let bills the VCR as a three-in-one time- 
saver: It lets you make recordings that 
skip past the six minutes of commercials 
in every half-hour of TV, it gives you a 
storehouse of tapes to play when there's 

nothing on the tube, and it ends your 
having to stand in line at movie theaters 
(not a word, however, about those long 
lines at video rental stores). 

The fifth item? A personal computer, 
and TIME warns it shouldn't just be used 
for playing games or balancing your 
checkbook. However, the types of tasks 
the computer does best — budgeting, data 
storage, mathematics, graphics, and 
writing— are usually related to work, not 

One thing TIME didn't mention was a 
home-automation system. You can al- 
ready buy low-cost remote controllers to 
connect to lights and appliances 
throughout the house. More sophisti- 
cated and expensive home-automation 
systems build up networks of such con- 
trollers. Sensors monitor the home, and 
the system responds, for example, turn- 
ing on the sprinkler when the lawn's 
moisture level drops. While these sys- 
tems are basically add-ons, next year will 

see the construction of Smart Houses, 
whose basic wiring allows for pre-pro- 
gramming and voice and remote control 
of household devices. In a sense, your 
home becomes a timesaving machine. 

Today, "making life easier" can be 
translated as "making work easier." The 
two phrases are often, if unconsciously, 
synonymous. There's an irony involved. 
Our dedication to saving time and en- 
ergy is so great that we sometimes find 
it hard to spend the time and energy 
we've saved. After all, judging by the 
high cost of our own labor, what we've 
accumulated is so valuable it seems sin- 
ful to spend it on anything except more 
work— or more devices to save time and 

Mary Ruth Yoe spends her time in 
Middlebury, Vt. , as a writer and 
editorial consultant. She is a frequent 
contributer to and former editor of the 
Alumni Magazine Consortium. 

MAY 1988 XI 

— ^ ■—■— if 

Zoos, tunes 


T l 


ike a tide, new words and new 
meanings come rolling in: dweeb, 
'chill, power snooze. They move 
from campus to campus, changing sub- 
tly. Then, about the time they show up 
in TV commercials, they're gone, into 
limbo with "the bee's knees" and 
"feelin' groovy." 

Each generation evolves its own lexi- 
con of "slanguage." It's hard for a stu- 
dent, let alone for a parent or an alumni 
magazine, to keep up with the way stu- 
dents speak. Yet we've tried, with the 
kind help of students from Franklin and 
Marshall College, Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, Villanova University, Western 
Maryland College, Western Reserve 
College, and Worcester Polytechnic In- 
stitute. These words are theirs. 

As you read, notice how student slang 
reflects the particular world it comes 
from. The Eskimos have dozens of 
words for snow; college students have 
multiple ways to talk about courses, 
drinking, partying, sex, doing well or 
badly, and social status. Some of these 
words are new while others are familiar, 
but all listed here are current. They are 
a way to talk about things students need 
to talk about. And often what they talk 
about doesn't reflect activity so much as 
anxiety. —EH 




Abuse! (exclamatory): The appropriate 
response when someone rags or harshes 

-age (added to the end of any noun for 
comic effect): tunage (music), cram- 
mage (studying for a test), spillage (in a 
bar, usually beer), theftage (taking a 
five-finger discount). 

airhead (n.): One who is dumb, ditzy, 
dorky, a bimbo, a dingbat. Most often 
used of females. 

air mail, to get (vb. phrase): To have no 
mail in the mailbox, only air. 

all-nighter, to pull an (vb. phrase): To 
stay up all night studying or writing a 
paper. The traditional way, especially for 
freshmen: "I pulled three all-nighters 
this week." 

awes (adj., rhymes with hoss): Wonder- 
ful, terrific. Condensed from awesome, 
a passe word now used mostly as a joke. 

beat (adj.): Bad, boring. Of a party, no 
one was there. Of a course, extremely 

beauteous (adj.): Generically good, 
used of an event, a scope, a time. 

big-time (adj.): Important, impressive, 
on a grand scale. "I did big-time scop- 
ing." Or, "Was it a rough test?" "Big- 
time." See also: major, in a big way. 

blizzard, to get a (vb. phrase): At 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, to fail, 
derived from the fact that failing grades 
are not recorded. Therefore, if you fail 
all courses, your grade sheet will be 
blank, white as snow. 

blow off (vb., transitive): To cut or bag 
a class, to reject a person, or to take 
things easy. "I blew off my eight 
o'clock" or "She blew me off." Noun 
and adjective forms also exist: A blow- 
off course is an easy ace. A blow-off is 
one who cuts classes all the time and 
generally makes no effort. 

as IS 

ind gweeps 

Words collected and defined by Elise Hancock 
Illustrations by Shaul Tsemach 


box (n.): A source of tunes, a radio/tape 
player. Formerly, boom box. 

brain-dead (adj.): Tired, worn-out, 
beat. Also, brain-damaged, out of it, 
burned, burned out, wiped, zonked, 
zoned, zoned out. 

cake (n.): A blow-off course, an easy 
ace. The word has been around a while. 

chill (vb.): To calm down, chill out, re- 
lax, cool down. Usually said as a com- 
mand to one who is overwrought: 
"Chill!" Similarly, "Take a pill!" "Take 
a chill pill!" "Cool your jets!" "Bring 
it down a thousand!" 

clue (n.): A sense of what's going on, 
both socially and academically. "Get a 
clue!" — said to someone who has just 
done something incredibly stupid. 

clueless (adj.): Pathetic, inept, gripless. 

cold (adj.): Harsh, nasty, unpleasant, 
below-the-belt. "That was cold"— what 
you might say if someone ragging on 
you gets out of control. 

Cool beans! (exclamatory): Good, ter- 
rific, always used as a response. 

crank (vb.): To study, to do well, to 
work like a well-oiled machine. "She 
cranked on that test." Sometimes with 

"out": "I've got to crank out some ma- 
jor work." 

crash and burn (vb.): To do badly. 

CUP (n.): A member of the Convention 
of Ugly People. 

diseased (adj.): Socially untouchable, 
absolutely not fitting in with the crowd. 

ditz (n.): A dumb girl. Also, bimbo. 

do (vb.): An all-purpose verb; one can 
"do" almost anything— do books, do 
dinner, do Vivarin. 

do okay (vb.): To do well. It is consid- 
ered improper to brag outside one's in- 
timate circle. So if some acquaintance 
asks how you did on a test and you aced 
it, you say, "I did okay." 

do shots (vb.): To toss down hard liquor 
by the shot glass. As a ritual, to cele- 
brate getting legal. 

double-geek (n.): A double-E (electri- 
cal engineering) major. 

Dr. Staff (proper n.): A Renaissance 
marvel, obviously the most energetic 
professor on campus, Staff is listed by 
the catalog as teaching dozens of courses 
each year. At Villanova, who you say 
will teach a course if you don't know. 

dump (vb.): To reject, stone, shoot 
down, or give the boot to someone with 
whom you've been going out. Stage one 
of dumping is signaled by the statement, 
"We're still going out, but we decided 
we should see other people." 

dweeb (n.): A socially unacceptable 
weirdo, super-clueless, lower than a 
geek, a person who has no redeeming 
social value. 

factor (n.): Used in a turn of phrase that 
adds emphasis, usually of something 
disgusting: "The grease factor is defi- 
nitely there." To have a boot factor of 10 
would mean you have an overwhelming 
need to throw up. 

fresh (adj.): Good-looking, used of a 

freshman 15: The 15 pounds that al- 
most any first-year student gains. On 
some campuses, the freshman 10. 

fried (adj.): Crushed, totaled, wiped 
out, obliterated. A common condition 
after swilling or taking a test: your brain 
got fried. 

friend (n.): Said in a certain tone of 
voice, replaces "boyfriend" or "girl- 
friend." One can also sardonically say, 
"mah woman," "mah bimbo," "mah 
man," "mah chick." "Main squeeze" 
and "significant other" enjoyed a brief 
vogue and are still heard. Actually, there 
is no satisfactory way to refer to one's 
significant other. Most usual is to use 
the person's name. If anyone asks, you 
say, "We're going out." 

geek (n.): A lamo, a person who is so- 
cially unacceptable in an earnest, per- 
spiring sort of way. Often an engineer- 
ing or science major, possessing a watch 
that beeps. One who overdoes: video 
geek, EE geek, computer geek. Derives 

from carnival slang for a person who 
bites the head off live chickens. To geek 
out is to study. 

Get a grip! (exclamatory): Get a clue! 
Pay attention! 

girl (n.): Sometimes an acceptable term 
for a college-age female; sometimes a 
dire insult. "Woman" is always 

god/goddess (n.): One who is extremely 
attractive. With modifiers: an expert on 
the subject, one who breaks the bell- 
shaped curve: chem god, sex god, study 

MAY 1988 XIII 

the lines 
of the catalog 

Air 'n' Sunshine: Arts and Sciences, 
the liberal arts. Also, Arts 'n' Crafts. 

Baby Bio: Biology for those who aren't 

Big Chem: A serious chemistry course 
(as opposed to Baby Chem), normally 
taken by pre-meds and majors. 

Bill on Film: Shakespeare in the Mov- 
ies (Villanova). 

Bowling for Diplomas: A bowling 
course taken to fulfill the gym require- 
ment (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). 

CMPS (pronounced Chomps): Com- 
puter Science (Western Reserve 

DiffEQ: Differential Equations, pro- 
nounced Diff-E-Q. 

Football Physics: An easy physics 
course — very easy. 

Grunge Lab: An engineering lab that 
teaches materials selection and sand- 
casting, welding, machine shop, and 
other activities that make you filthy and 
grungy (WPI). 

Kiddy Chem: A chemistry course long 
on concepts, short on math. Intended for 

Kiddy Lit: Children's Literature. 

Orgasmic: Organic chemistry. On some 
campuses, Orgo, O-chem. 

Rocks for Jocks: Geology, generally 
conceded to be the most passable sci- 
ence for persons with, um, no mathe- 
matical bent. 

Sadistics: Statistics. 

Underwater Basket Weaving: Any 

course with a guaranteed A. 

Volts for Dolts: Electrical engineering 
for dummies. 

god. "If the professor doesn't know, the 
chem god will." 

going out (vb. phrase): Definitely a 
couple, not seeing other people, yet not 

golden (adj.): Supreme, classic, used of 
a glorious, definitive moment: "It was 
golden. I was hysterical." 

goober (n.): A loser, a geek. 

Good call! (exclamatory): Good think- 
ing! You're right! Derives from sports. 

graffiti party (n.): A party to which 
everyone wears a white T-shirt and car- 
ries a felt-tip pen, the better to inscribe 
you with. 

grip (n.): A hold, a clue, some inkling 
of what's going on. When a person is 
out of control, you say, "Get a grip!" 

guido (n.): A guy with open collar, lots 
of chest hair, gold chains glinting, strong 
grease factor. Often found in a bar. 

guy (n.): A male of college age, a young 
man. In the plural, used of groups and 
can include females. 

gweep (n.): A computer geek, a con- 
cave-chested person, almost always 
male, whose computer is his closest 
friend. Pronounced with a hard G, the 
word derives from the sound made when 
finger hits keyboard. To gweep out is to 
spend a lot of time at the computer. The 
word is possibly unique to Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute. 

hating it, hating life (vb. phrase): Said 
with a certain emphatic drawl 
(HAAAAT-ing it), expresses the state of 
mind of one who has 13 weeks of work 
to learn in one night. 


/"a noon c< no o» \ 


hang, or (more rarely) hang out (vb.): 
To exist, not doing anything in particu- 
lar, to be with your friends: "We're just 
hangin'." Sometimes, to have a hang- 
over. Synonyms: veg or veg out. 

Happens! (exclamatory): A response, 
said with a certain twist in the voice, 
meaning: Oh well, it's to be expected. 

harsh (adj.): Very bad, tough, or hard; 
worse than beat. A harsh booze would 
be, for example, tequila. 

Hey! (exclamatory): An all-purpose 
greeting, said without so much as break- 
ing stride. No answer is required. Simi- 
larly, "What's up!" "Yo!" "How ya 
doin'?" "Hey, dude!" The response, if 
any and also without breaking stride, 
would be: "Still alive!" "Surviving!" 
or "Stressing!" 

history (n.): Past, gone, out of the pic- 
ture, often used of people. After break- 
ing up, one might say, "He/she's 

hit on (vb.): To approach a member of 
the opposite sex, to attempt a pick-up. 

home (n.): Where you live, in a dorm 
room or apartment. 

home-home (n.): Where you come 
from, a place you visit that parents and 
siblings may think is your home. 

hook or hook up (vb.): To connect with 
something desirable, usually booze or a 
member of the opposite sex. One might 
say to the bartender, "Hook me up with 
some suds." Used as a noun, hook-up 
implies sex. 

hot (adj.): Very good-looking, used of 
either sex. A hot mug is an attractive 

in a big way (an all-purpose intensifying 
phrase): Very much whatever it is: sweet 
in a big way, spillage in a big way. 


intense (adj.): The utmost of whatever- 
it-isness, whether good or bad. An in- 
tense concert blew you away. An intense 
course is extremely hard. 

jam (vb.): To go smoothly, dancingly, 
jazzily: "I was jamming on that exam." 
Sometimes used as a synonym for tunes, 

Just say no (slogan): Offered as mock 
advice in any situation where people are 
about to do something they know they 
should not. 

lame (adj.): Not up to expectation, bor- 
ing, weak, lacking in substance: a lame 
class, excuse, professor, or party. The 
variant noun "lamo" would be used only 
of a person, or as an exclamation. 

leech (n.): One who can't hear no, won't 
leave you alone, attempts to hit on you 
despite your icy stares. 

legal (adj.): To be of drinking age, 21. 
To "get legal" is to turn 21. 


library, at the (adv. phrase): Where you 
say your roommate is when his or her 
parents call. Similarly, "at church." 

license to swill (n.): An ID card that 
alleges its carrier is over age 2 1 . 

lose it (vb.): To be gripless, lose control. 

major (adj.): Very important, big-time, 
on a grand scale: a major party, a major 
geek. Or, "I have to crank out some 
major work." Conversely, minor equals 

mall chick (n.): A certain type of high- 
school girl most often seen at a shopping 
center, wearing tight pants, plastic jew- 
elry, artificial-looking hair, eyelashes out 
to there. Also, mall bunny. 

married (adj.): Committed, going to- 
gether, inseparably coupled, though not 
literally married. People call such a cou- 
ple "Mr. and Mrs." 

mode, in the (adv. phrase): Desig- 
nates how you're occupied. Examples: 
in the study mode, in the party mode, in 
the sleep mode. 

my brain hurts: A statement of fact, 
for whatever reason:. You had a test; 
you have a hangover. Derived from 
Monty Python's Professor Gumby. 

N.A.C. (exclamatory): Not a Clue! The 
proper comment when someone is dron- 
ing on. 

nasty (adj.): Ugly, gross, wrong, foul, 

No doubt! (exclamatory): Said with em- 
phasis on both words, a response of en- 
thusiastic agreement. "That's really 
true!" "I couldn't agree more!" 

nuke (vb.): To destroy utterly ("I nuked 
that test") or to put in the microwave. 

orgasmic (adj.): Intense, wonderful, cli- 
mactic. Often used of concerts or 

over-rated list, the (n.): The people you 
don't like head this list. They have won 
the over-rated tournament. 

packed (adj.): Well-built, used of a man. 

P.C. (adj.): Politically correct. At one 
campus, that could mean vegetarian, 
anti-Contra, feminist, pre-Peace Corps. 

P.D.A. (n.): Public Display of Affec- 
tion. The proper response is, "Get a 

photon box (n.): An empty mail box; 
only light is in it. Similarly, air mail. 

pound (vb.) beer: To lift 16-ounce arm 
curls, to drink beer in the chugging 

power snooze or nap (n.): 15 seconds 
to 15 minutes of reviving slumber, as in 
the middle of an all-nighter. 

pre-wealth (adj.): Pre-law, pre-med, 
pre-other lucrative profession. 

primal scream (n.): Heartfelt scream 
emitted during exam week as a form of 
study break. On some campuses, a group 
activity for specific times or places, usu- 
ally midnight. At other schools, may be 
indulged as each individual feels the 

psyched (adj.): Worked up, elated, ex- 
cited, very happy. Often used of readi- 
ness for athletic performance. 

Quarters (proper n.): A drinking game 
in which players bounce quarters off the 
table into a shot glass. Rules vary. 
Sometimes if you're successful, you may 

to swill 

pick someone else to drink up the glass! 
Other times, if you fail, which is easy, 
you have to drink. 

radical (adj.): Enviable, wonderful, both 
terrific and novel, roughly equivalent to 
the antique expression "far-out." More 
common on some campuses: rad. 

rag on (transitive vb.): To tease, rip, or 
cut someone down. 

RAM overload (n.): To forget some- 
thing. From computerese, overload of 
the Random Access Memory. 

rank (adj.): Disgusting, stomach- 

real food (n. phrase): Restaurant food, 
home-home food— any food that is not 
from a cafeteria. 

rents (n., plural): Parents. 

run, to make a (vb. phrase): To 

run an errand: to make a pizza run, beer 
run, doughnut run. 

SAGA (proper n.): A food service cor- 
poration that supplies many college caf- 
eterias. At some campuses, said to stand 
for Soviet Attempt to Gag America. 

scary (adj.): Extremely ugly, weird, or 
otherwise undesirable, to such a degree 
it is outside nature. Weird people have a 
high scare bear factor. 

scoff (vb.): To bum, or to steal in a 
benign sort of way, as from the dining 
hall or from someone who really might 
not mind, for instance, a banana from 
one's roommate. 

MAY 1988 XV 


a run 





scope (vb.): To check out the scene, 
looking for someone hot. Once the per- 
son is found, he or she might be called 
a scope. At Worcester Polytechnic Insti- 
tute, scope is the first of the four S's, 
which proceed to scam (finding the hot 
one), scoop (making the hook-up), and 
scromp (the ensuing activities). 

see (vb., transitive): Comparable to the 
archaic term "to date," meaning to see 
someone, to go out with someone. Ex- 
ample: "They're seeing each other," said 
of a couple who've been out more than 
once, but the relationship is casual. One 
might be seeing several people. 

See ya! (exclamatory): What you say in 
parting. Also: "Bye," "Peace," "Be 
good," "Let's blow," "Catch you later," 
"I'll get back" (black slang), "I'm outta 
here," "I gotta boogie," "I'm history," 
or "Later, dude!" 

skank (n.): Someone with an unattrac- 
tive personality. Also, dirtball, scum- 
bag, slime, sleeze, scab, or dink. 

slam (vb.): Brutally to reject, to shoot 
down, to spike or ace another human 

slime (n.): One who is lowlife; a mat- 
tress-back, a slimeball, a sleazebag, a 
trollop, a slam piece, a gross and cheesy 
person. A very young piece of slime 
might be called a sleaze puppy. 

So I shot 'im! (exclamatory): A phrase 
designed to draw attention, used when 
you're telling a long story and no one is 
listening. Similarly, "So he was dead." 

stick it in the queue (exclamatory): Add 
something to a pile, as putting your coat 
on a mound of coats; from computerese. 

stressing (adj.): To be under stress, 
schizzing, losing it; a common condition 
during exams. 

stud muffin (n.): A very good-looking 
guy. Also, stud cake. Adj.: studly. As a 
joke, a good-looking woman might be 
called a stud-ette. 

super-senior (n.): Someone who failed 
to graduate and is still hanging around, 
pathetically taking a few last courses. 
Also, to be on the five-year plan, the 
six-year plan, the seven-year plan. 

sweet (adj.): Sexually attractive, hot, 
fresh. Used only of females. 

swill (vb.): To consume, to drink an al- 
coholic beverage. Also to pound, slam, 
chug, hammer, tip back, catch a load, 
catch a buzz, or hook up with a buzz. A 
swilldog is a lush. 

tacky tourist party (n.): A party at 
which one wears a lame shirt and carries 
a huge camera, guidebooks, etc. 

team Xerox (vb.): To copy a set of 
homework problems, usually from the 
year before, for a group. 

ticket meal (n.): In the dining hall, a 
meal that requires a special ticket be- 
cause it is supposed to be especially 
good, but which turns out to be only 
mystery meat, or maybe Pucks 'n' Cray- 
fish (turf 'n' surf). 

tight with (adj.): Intimate with, close 
to, either to a friend or to a lover. On 
some campuses, a very connected cou- 
ple is "tight at the hip" or "joined at 
the hip." 

toasted (adj.): Buzzed, somewhat drunk. 

tool (vb.): To do well, to crank. 

tool (n.): An insentient thing masquer- 
ading in human form, a jerk, a fool. 

tight with 

total (adj.): Very, really, utterly; an all- 
purpose intensifier. 

Totally! (exclamatory): "I agree!" 
"Even more so than what you said!" 
Example: "Wow, that was a really good 
tune!" "Totally!" 

trashed (adj.): Extremely drunk. Also, 
loaded, wasted, hammered, wrecked, 
bombed, slammed, outta hand, gone. 

tunes (n. , pi.): Music of any sort, or the 
source of music. As in, "Put some tunes 
on" (put on a record) or "Grab some 
tunes" (bring the radio). The tune mas- 
ter controls the tunes. 

twit (n.): An airhead of either sex, a 

veg (vb.): To do nothing, think nothing, 
just hang; vegetate. Veg out is used less 

Vivarin (proper n.): Caffeine pills, now 
preferred to the classic No-Doz. 

wanked out (adj.): Exhausted, very 

wastoid (n.): A drunken burnout. 

way (adv.): Very, as in way funny, way 
harsh. Similarly (said with emphasis), 
too cool, too funny. 

whipped (adj.): Of a guy, "married," 
never seen without his woman. Implica- 
tion is that she nags him and runs his 

wired (adj.): On your fifth wind— ex- 
cited, nervous, overwrought, stretched, 
and exultant. Too much Vivarin would 
do it. 

wonk (n.): A computer geek. 

Yo! (exclamatory): A greeting. 

za (n.): Pizza. 

zel (n.): Pretzels. 

zog (vb.): To drink beer in the chugging 

zoning (vb., present participle): Same 
as antique expression "spaced out": to 
be a human vegetable, to hang, to major 
in couch potato. 

zoo (n.): Registration or any other con- 
fused, crowded situation. 

Elise Hancock met with some 80 stu- 
dents in gathering "slanguage " for this 
article. Former editor of the Johns Hop- 
kins Magazine, she is now university ed- 
itor at Hopkins. 



74 to 

Sixteen years ago, a lone woman, 
Lesley Small Zorabedian, walked 
across the stage in Harrington Au- 
ditorium and into WPI history, be- 
coming the first woman to receive 
an undergraduate degree from the 
college. The following year, a small 
group of women made that same 
walk, earning their B.S. degrees 
with the rest of the Class of 1973. 
The frustrations and successes of 
those pioneering women changed 
WPI forever. 

There were no big anti-war rallies, 
no major civil rights demonstra- 
tions, no sit-ins or classroom 
take-overs. But at WPI in 1968, a social 
revolution of a different sort was just 
beginning— a change in century-old 
traditions that would alter the face of 
campus life. 

It was a time when WPI's students 
were required to attend R.O.T.C. classes 
Saturday mornings, when weekend pa- 
rietal hours had just been established, 
when the campus was headed by a three- 
star general. And it was a time for eval- 
uating the way things had been done 
since the Institute's founding in 1865. 

The curriculum and grading systems 
weren't the only topics scrutinized dur- 
ing that introspective period; there was 
the more sensitive question of who 
should attend WPI in the first place. 

For more than 100 years, undergradu- 
ate enrollment had been limited to men, 
a situation that suited some faculty and 
students just fine. Two women had 
earned master's degrees at WPI— the 
first in 1957— and two more would earn 
graduate degrees before the 1960s were 
over. But the voices of those who felt 
women also had a right to an undergrad- 
uate education in the engineering and 
science disciplines were becoming more 
insistent. In 1968, they prevailed. 

At a Board of Trustees meeting on 
February 10 of that year, the decision 

With the Odds 

Against Them, 

WPI's First Women 



the Way for 

Those Who Followed 


was made to admit women undergrad- 
uates to WPI. The news hit campus on 
Valentine's Day in the form of a brief 
page-one article in The Tech News. 
Headlined "Board Approves Plan for 
Coeds," the article quoted President 
Harry Storke: 

" 'We have been receiving an increas- 
ing number of serious inquiries from 
scholastically qualified young women 
who could benefit from the quality of 
education Worcester Tech provides . . . 
With a much higher percentage of 
women preparing for courses in engi- 
neering or science, it was inevitable that 
this college would open its doors to the 
ladies . . . 

" 'Worcester Tech's founder, John 
Boynton, recognized that the school 
would have women students someday 
when the trustees felt the time was ap- 
propriate. That time is now.' " 

While President Storke put the best 
public face on the decision, the Board's 
approval had not been achieved without 
some serious debate and internal protest. 
Dean of Undergraduate Studies William 
Grogan recalls some of the arguments 
he heard as a young, active faculty 
member who in the late 1960s chaired 
the curriculum committee. 

"It had been talked about for a long 
time," he says. "Some senior faculty 
members felt that engineering was not 
an appropriate field for women — that it 
was OK for women to study math or 
physics, but that engineering was a 
man's world. 

"But most of the discussion centered 
on costs and how to handle the change. 
There were endless discussions about 
housing and use of the gym, locker 
rooms and pool." 

Though not privy to the executive 
board discussions that led to the final 
decision to accept women, Grogan at- 
tributes the move to two major factors: 

"First, it was a time for new and lib- 
eral thinking. We were really question- 
ing everything we were doing. It was a 
natural extension of that process to ques- 


tion the attitudes of the college toward 
women students. 

"There was also thought about long- 
range economics — engineering school 
applications were not strong anywhere 
nationally, part of a general reaction 
against technology. Those trends cer- 
tainly encouraged whatever other think- 
ing supported opening the college to 

The decision to admit undergraduate 
women came too late in the academic 
year to make possible an aggressive re- 
cruitment effort for the fall. As a result, 
only two women entered WPI as fresh- 
men in September: Lesley Small, a 
graduate of David Prouty High School 
in Spencer, Mass., and Jayne Rossetti, 
of Hopedale (Mass.) Junior/Senior High 
School. Both were class valedictorians. 

WPI 's first women 
were front-page 
news in the student 

Their names, faces and accomplish- 
ments were known to WPI men well be- 
fore their arrival. A picture of the two 
women appeared on the front page of 
the May 8 edition of The Tech News. 
The previous week, the student paper 
had introduced their names and achieve- 
ments, adding, "The girls stated that 
they are a little scared and nervous about 
entering a school which was previously 
all-male. But Miss Small did state that 
she has been in all-male classes in high 
school so that it's really nothing new." 

But the reality of being one of only 
two women undergrads turned out to be 
a whole new experience for Lesley 
"Lee" Small Zorabedian ('72 MA), who 
now has four children and lives in Read- 
ing, Mass. 

Since there were no residence halls 

Nora Blum '73 is now an engineering 

supervisor for Bechtel Western 

Power Co. 



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"I didn't want special treatment. I just 

wanted to be treated as one of the 


equipped to handle the two newcomers, 
both women lived off-campus and com- 
muted their freshman year. "I felt very 
lonely," says Zorabedian of that first 
year. "I went to class and came home. I 
really didn't have a place to go. The 
library was my home base." 

"On a day-to-day basis, I was in sec- 
tions of 20 or 25 men, and that wasn't 
so bad. But I was shy, and I didn't want 
special treatment. I just wanted to be 
treated as one of the students." 

That shyness kept Zorabedian from 
venturing onto the quadrangle by the 
men's dorms well into her second se- 
mester. "I didn't want to be seen." 

By her sophomore year, however, she 
had begun to join in campus activities. 
At a dorm committee meeting the pre- 
vious spring concerning the needs of in- 
coming freshman women, she met class- 
mate Jack Zorabedian, whom she later 

And then there were the 24 women 
who came to WPI in the fall of 1969. 
With their arrival, the ratio of men to 
women teetered at a lopsided 74 to 1. 
But for Zorabedian, who was now able 
to live on-campus, even small numbers 
were a welcome change: "It sure was 
nice to have female company," she says. 
Housing accommodations consisted of 
half the first floor in Sanford-Riley Hall. 
Triples and a few doubles, plus a resi- 
dent advisor's suite, were set off from 
the rest of the dorm by a pair of fire 
doors at either end of the hallway. 

With the women came many changes 
to the formerly all-male environment: 
urinals were changed into planters, 
shower curtains added privacy to gang 
showers, full-length mirrors and curtains 
graced dorm walls and windows. 

And there were changes in residence 
hall rules as well. For example, re- 
stricted visiting hours for women in male 
dorms soon went by the boards. 

But the most profound changes— those 
that affected the basic social structure of 
the campus and classroom— took longer 
and were much more difficult to achieve. 

One of just two women accepted in 1968, Lesley Small Zorabedian '72 felt 
conspicuous on campus; the situation improved the following fall when WPI 
admitted 24 more women. 


"They finally discovered we were not 
walking computers, but real people." 

Mary Zoeller Murray '73 recently joined Phoenix Technologies, Ltd., as director 
of marketing programs. 

"That first term was crazy," remem- 
bers Janet Merrill Mambrino ('73 MA), 
who now runs a computer consulting 
firm with her husband in Old Saybrook, 
Conn. "I remember people taking pic- 
tures of us as we walked across campus 
because we were such an oddity," she 

"The guys felt we must be eggheads- 
slide rule on the belt and all that. Women 
weren't supposed to be into science, so 
they figured we must have been either 
very brilliant or very strange." 

"The majority of boys did not like us 
girls— we were invading their turf," 
agrees classmate Deborah (LaPlante) 
Goodwin ('73 MA), a math tutor in 
Greenville, S.C. "We would go into the 
cafeteria en masse and no one would sit 
by us. Then we tried to sit individually, 
and still no one would sit by us." 

Those memories are shared by math- 
ematics Professor John van Alstyne, then 
dean of academic advising and still 
friend to many of WPI's first women 
graduates. "When the women first came 
in, they had a terrible time," says van 
Alstyne. "The men resented them based 
on fear. The women were very bright, 
and they had to be highly motivated to 
withstand the guff they took. 

"They were more conscientious re- 
garding assignments, so the men had to 
work harder to keep up, and they didn't 
like to look stupid in front of the women. 

"In addition, most of the male stu- 
dents came from families where women 
stayed home while the men earned a liv- 
ing. These women were stepping out of 
traditional cultural roles, and the men 
didn't understand. The women were on 
center stage from day one." 

That uninvited notoriety proved to be 
a personal challenge for each of the new 
freshmen, complicating the normal 
stresses of a first year at college. 

"You got a lot of attention— some- 
times it was good and sometimes nega- 
tive," recalls Nora A. Blum ('73 CE), 
now an engineering supervisor with 
Bechtel Western Power Co. in Norwalk, 

36 SPRING 1988 

Calif. "It could make you feel important 
or be overbearing. Sometimes you had 
the feeling that everyone was watching; 
it made you wonder if you were some 
kind of freak." 

In addition to contending with male 
students' fears and prejudices, the 
women also had to confront the occa- 
sional male professor who would make 
life that much more difficult. 

"I remember walking into my chem- 
istry class the first day,"' says Janet Mer- 
rill Mambrino. "The teacher said he 
didn't feel women belonged in an engi- 
neering school, and if I wanted more 
than an F. I'd have to really prove 

Fortunately, such instances were the 
exception rather than the rule. And by 
mid-year, tensions with the male stu- 
dents were easing as well. 

"The turning point for me came at the 
end of our first semester." says Mary 
Zoeller Murray ("73 CH), who recently 
moved back East from California to take 
a position in technical marketing with 
Phoenix Technologies, Ltd., in Nor- 
wood. Mass. 

"A group of gentlemen at the other 
end of the hall gave a Christinas party 
for us. It was a very nice gesture. I felt 
like we had comrades — friends." 

Gradually, as. in Deborah Goodwin's 
words, "they finally discovered we were 
not walking computers, but real peo- 
ple," the WPI men began asking their 
new acquaintances out on dates. That, 
too. was a major departure from campus 
tradition, which favored women from 
Becker Junior College and local nursing 

But dating also singled out the women 
in yet another way. "By their sophomore 
year, the women were being asked out 
by seniors." says van Alstyne. "But 
whenever a senior would ask one of the 
women for a date, everyone else on cam- 
pus would know about it. because there 
were so few of them. So it was like the 
men had staked out a claim, and others 
would be afraid to ask them out." 

Nonetheless, some couples inevitably 
formed, and several of the women, in- 
cluding Lee Small, Deborah LaPlante 
and Elizabeth C. Poulin. eventually 
married WPI men — John Zorabedian Jr. 
('72 CM). Stephen Goodwin f 73 EE) 
and Frank Steiner f 71 ME) respectively. 

As more women were admitted to the 
college, the novelty of coeducation be- 
gan to wear off, and campus life settled 
into new social patterns. Those in the 
Class of '73 continued to distinguish 
themselves academically, and a few 
started to venture away from the hard 
sciences they had favored since high 
school and into the male bastion of en- 
gineering disciplines. 

They also became involved in extra- 
curricular activities. In the absence of 
sororities, some, like Diane Gramer and 
Janet Merrill, pledged as fraternity 
"brothers" to Alpha Epsilon Pi. Lee 
Small became the first woman president 
of Tau Beta Pi. the engineering honor 

Elaine Kowalewski Tepper (MS '71) 
was WPI 's first woman resident advisor. 

Dean Gramer Drew '73 is now a senior design engineer for Hamilton Standard 
in Suffield. Ct. 


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Deborah and Stephen Goodwin '73 with their children in Greenville. S.C. 

society, while Nora Blum became the 
first woman to edit the Tech News. Oth- 
ers helped to form some women's ath- 
letic teams in crew, fencing and basket- 
ball, and many became cheerleaders. 

"In picking the initial students, [Dean 
of Admissions] Ken Nourse tried to 
select strong candidates, because he 
knew they would face a lot of prob- 
lems," says van Alstyne. "He picked 
women who had a good chance of suc- 
ceeding, and most of them lived up to 
his expectations." 

For many of the women, van Alstyne 
was an important key to their success, 
as well as newly appointed Assistant 
Dean of Students Bernie Brown. " 'Van 
A' was like a father to us all," says Beth 
Poulin ('73 MA, '78 M.S. ME), now a 
research engineer with Foster-Miller Inc. 
in Waltham, Mass. "He'd often call us 
into his office— he kind of knew when 
things were going wrong. And Dean 
Brown was very good to us." 

Now vice president for student affairs, 
Brown gives special credit to one other 
individual who helped ease the coeds' 
transition— WPI's first woman resident 
advisor, Elaine S. Kowalewski. A first- 
year graduate student in mathematics, 
Kowalewski was a "main resource" for 
Brown at a time when no counseling 
center existed and there were no other 
professional women on campus. 

Nicknamed "Ma Riley" after their 
home in Sanford-Riley Hall, Elaine Ko- 
walewski Tepper ('71 M.S. MA), now a 
programmer analyst with AT&T in 
White Plains, N.Y., has warm memories 
of her years as resident advisor: "I tried 
to keep my door open — I was really very 
fond of the women. Even though I was 
four years older, we all had a common 

That kind of support, a lot of hard 
work and a willingness to take risks, 
enabled most of the group to finish their 
four years at WPI among the top stu- 
dents of their class. Twenty of the orig- 
inal 24 completed their studies and re- 
ceived degrees, following the example 
of Lee Small, who had become the first 
woman undergraduate to graduate from 
WPI the previous year. (Jayne Rossetti 
dropped out for personal reasons mid- 
way through her WPI career.) 

And then the real challenge began. 

"In college everybody treated me as 
an equal," says Diane Gramer Drew ('73 
HTE), a senior design engineer at Ham- 
ilton Standard in Suffield, Conn. "In the 
working world, I found things much 
more different— more prejudiced. 

"I'm still dealing with it. It's hard 
being a woman engineer. All the man- 
agers are men, and most of the engineers 
are men. A woman has to work harder 
to prove she can do something." 

Her experiences were shared by Nora 
Blum in her first engineering position 
with a Boston firm: "In a new situation, 
people who didn't know you would as- 
sume you were Joe's secretary. Some- 
times it was almost funny and some- 
times you could get really upset. 

"My reaction was to keep my anger 
inside. I'd pound my desk in private and 
think, damn it, I'm going to show them. 
Then I'd do a very competent job. With 
experience I became more confident and 
others became more accepting." 

For many of the women, their early 
years at WPI helped them to bolster their 
self-esteem as they met challenges later 
in life. "If there's one thing I learned 
from that time, it's that there's nothing 
you can't do if you really want it," says 
Zorabedian. "It's a belief I hope to in- 
still in my own children." 

It's also a belief that a number of the 
alumnae have shared with WPI's current 
women undergraduates during campus 
visits. The group they address today — 
accounting for 17 percent of the student 
body— enjoys a number of benefits they 
lived without: coed athletic facilities, 
three sororities, more women staff and 
faculty members and the acceptance that 
comes with nearly two decades of expe- 
rience with women students. 

Administrators like Bill Grogan look 
forward to the day when women will 
account for at least a fourth of under- 
graduate enrollments. And Bernie Brown 
thinks that, despite how far the college 
has come with coeducation, there is still 
room for improvement. 

But getting this far, he adds, could 
never have been accomplished without 
the help of those first two dozen who 
sensitized WPI to women's issues and 

"It was such a special group," says 
Brown. "They fought the early battles 
for those who came after." 

Evelyn Herwitz, a free-lance writer liv- 
ing in Worcester, is a frequent contribu- 
tor to the Journal. 

38 SPRING 1988 

Across the 



with the 

World's First 


Solar Car Race 

A Personal 

By Edward 
N. Clarke 

Photos by Ed Clarke 
and General Motors 

Left: GM's Sunraycer at 
the finish line with the 
World Solar Challenge cup. 
Below: the challengers were 
on display in Darwin before 
the race. 

I flew to Sydney, Australia, in late October 1987 
and thence to Brisbane, where I boarded a bus 
for the 2,500 mile, 2V2-day trip northwest to 
Darwin. By the time my travels in this continent 
would end, I would cover 6,000 miles of lovely, 
wild land; see strange, exotic and dangerous ani- 
mals; sleep in the open under the endless Aus- 
tralian sky and slog through four inches of rain 
in a desert outpost that had not seen a storm in 
13 years— all to get a chance to witness the 
World Solar Challenge, the first ever transconti- 
nental solar car race. What an odyssey it was! 


With its entourage of tech- 
nicians and mechanics, 
Sunraycer glides across the 
Australian desert, looking 
more like a spaceship than 
an automobile. It crossed 
lihe Outback in just five 
\days, easily defeating its 24 
Solar Challenge rivals, in- 
cluding a car made by Ford 
Motor of Australia (far left) 
and Spirit of Biel, the work 
of a group of Swiss engi- 
neering students. 

on the northern coast of Aus- 
tralia, the course crossed the 
Australian Outback before 
ending in Adelaide, 2,000 
punishing miles south on the 
Indian Ocean. Had it been 
run in North America, the 
race would have stretched 
from Calgary, Alberta, to 
Houston, and would still have 
been a human and technolog- 
ical milestone. But crossing 
the Outback made the Solar 
Challenge both grueling and, 
at times, dangerous— and the 
most exciting adventure of my 

In all, 24 vehicles started 
the race on a warm spring (in 
Australia) day. When the last 
stragglers crossed the finish 
line some 30 days later, 14 
cars had reached Adelaide. 
When all was said and done, 
the General Motors (GM) 
Sunraycer, powered com- 
pletely by solar cells, or pho- 
tovoltaics, and batteries 
charged only by the sun had 
raced the distance in a little 
over five days, averaging 42 
miles per hour and defeating 
the second-place Ford entry 
by a good two days. 

Since returning to the 
States, it has been hard to 
contain my enthusiasm for 
what I was a part of. People 
frequently ask me how I be- 
came involved. It was in early 
1987 that I learned of the 
Challenge race and its vision 
of demonstrating that auto- 
mobiles could run continu- 
ously with no source of en- 
ergy other than the sun. This 
was history in the making in 
my field of technology, and I 
wanted to be a part of it. 

GM announced its plans to 
participate in the Solar Chal- 
lenge in the spring of 1987, 
with just seven months left 
until race time (most of the 
other competitors had already 
been at work on their entries 
for more than a year). I con- 
tacted Robert Stempel '55, 
who had just become presi- 
dent of GM, and told him of 
my interest. Bob put me in 

touch with the manager of 
GM's solar car program and 
its public relations director. I 
was fortunate enough to be 
invited to the unveiling of the 
Sunraycer in Detroit that Sep- 
tember, an event that made 
news nationwide. 

GM invited me to travel 
across the Outback with the 
safari that would accompany 
Sunraycer. But as exciting as 
that offer was, I soon found 
myself facing the kind of di- 
lemma we all dream of, for 
the opportunity had arisen for 
me to travel in the safari of 
race organizer and modern 
adventurer Hans Tholstrup. 
Here was a chance to follow 
not one but a number of the 
24 national teams throughout 
the race. 

Accompanying Tholstrup 
was a chance I couldn't pass 
up, though I am grateful to 
GM for enabling me to be- 
come involved with the Solar 
Challenge in the first place. I 
had come to know a number 
of the GM team members, 
whom I now count as friends, 
but I wanted an even broader 

NATION the size of the con- 
tinental United States. Most 
of the country's 17 million 
people, however, live in the 
southeast and on the east 
coast. This is where the Brit- 
ish dumped convicts in the 
late 18th and early 19th cen- 
turies, and many Aussies are 
still conscious of their feloni- 
ous forebears. 

Most of the continent is 
tropical or arid, with the 
hottest region lying in the 
center. It was through this 
hot, dry land that the race 
passed, rolling along the 
famed Stuart Highway. Giant 
termite mounds— some up to 
15 feet high— ubiquitous in- 
sects, kangaroos, dingoes, 
goanna lizards and large poi- 
sonous spiders were the order 
of the day— and night. 

The Solar Challenge passed 
through two Australian 

states— starting in Darwin in 
the tropical Northern Terri- 
tory, passing through the de- 
sert-like Outback of South 
Australia and ending in Ade- 
laide, near beautiful rolling 
hills of wheat fields, vine- 
yards and sheep farms. 

As the weather turned 
colder back home, summer 
was approaching in Australia. 
In fact, temperatures may 
have reached 114 degrees 
while we were in Darwin, a 
city of about equal latitude as 
Lima, Peru. For once, I'd 
been able to extend the In- 
dian Summer we so cherish 
in New England. 

The 24 solar racers that ar- 
rived for the start of the race 
originated in Denmark, Ja- 
pan, Pakistan, Switzerland, 
West Germany and Australia, 
in addition to the GM Sun- 
raycer from the U.S. Three 
Australian high schools com- 
peted, as well as colleges and 

The best college solar cars 
came from the engineering 
college in Biel, Switzerland, 
and the Darwin and Chis- 
holm institutes of technology, 
both in Australia. Spirit of 
Biel, the Swiss car, which had 
backing from Mercedes Benz, 
finished third. The Australian 
university entries came in 
fifth and sixth, respectively. 
Farther down in the pack 
were cars built by students at 
MIT and Crowder College in 

Time trials in Darwin on 
the day before the start of the 
race determined the starting 
positions, much as they do at 
the Indianapolis 500. Sunray- 
cer won the pole position 
with a speed of 70 miles per 
hour. The Hawaiian Mana La 
("power of the sun") got the 
other front-row slot. 

Each entry was also re- 
quired to demonstrate stabil- 
ity against the air turbulence 
created by passing road 
trains— truck tractors pulling 
three large trailers in tandem. 
Up to 130 feet long, with 72 
wheels, these monsters travel 


100 miles per hour carrying 
120-ton pay loads! In addition 
to Sunraycer, Mana La, the 
Ford Motor of Australia car 
and the Swiss car performed 
well in these trials. 

On November 1, the Chal- 
lenge got under way — fortu- 
nately under bright blue skies 
and intense sunshine. By the 
end of the first day's racing, 
Sunraycer had opened up a 
68-mile lead on its closest 
competitor, the Swiss team, 
and was 73 miles ahead of 
the Ford. Mana La, mean- 
while, had made some strate- 
gic errors, and before racing 
ended at 5 p.m., its batteries 
died, leaving it 87 miles be- 
hind GM. 

Day 2 dawned cloudy— a 
threatening surprise for most 
of the cars, for race rules pro- 
hibited charging batteries 
with any source other than the 
sun. By that evening, Sunray- 
cer' s lead was up to 150 
miles. And, by the end of 
the third day, Mana La had 
dropped out for good, though 
it was not the first to quit. 

By the time Sunraycer 
rolled across the finish line, 
it had opened up a gap of 600 
miles between itself and the 
Australian Ford car, the sec- 
ond-place finisher, and more 
than 1,000 miles between it- 
self and the last of the 14 en- 
tries that completed the Chal- 
lenge within the 10-day 
official limit of the race (two 
cars would take a month to 
get to Adelaide) . 

After the GM and Ford en- 
tries came the Spirit of Biel. 
The Swiss car would proba- 
bly have done better had it 
not collided in central Aus- 
tralia's Alice Springs with a 
conventional automobile that 
had entered an intersection at 
precisely the wrong time. 
Ironically, it was the driver of 
the Swiss car who wound up 
getting a ticket. 

In a display of automotive 
wizardry, the Swiss had their 
car repaired and back on the 
road in less than six hours. 
But, by then, they had lost 

second place to Ford for 

I had the privilege of 
spending two fascinating 
nights with the Swiss team— 
the night after the collision 
and the night before their fi- 
nal day of racing. It was on 
this second night that they 
made the emotional decision 
to reach the finish line before 
the end of the next day, even 
if it meant racing beyond 5 
p.m. and thus accumulating 
penalty points for being on 
the road at that hour. 

Somewhat to our surprise, 
the three Japanese entries 
performed relatively poorly. 
In fact, all three were still in 
the Outback as I was leaving 
Australia. But the Japanese 
had ample opportunity to 
study Sunraycer and, per- 
haps, will make use of what 
they saw. 

car drivers slept in tents, 
vans, trucks, station wag- 
ons—wherever they could 
find a restful spot — when they 
finished their turns at the 
wheel. While in the tropical 
part of the Outback, I slept 
on the desert in a sleeping 
bag, making certain that my 
exposed little "bedroom" 
was free of the 2 -inch poi- 
sonous spiders that were 
everywhere— at least they 
weren't around when I first 
lay down to sleep. I guess I 
assumed that kangaroos were 
too timid to come near and 
that goanna lizards would 
simply stay away. 

For the physical exercise 
that is an invaluable part of 
my daily ritual, each morning 
before the cars got under way 
at 8 a.m. I ran three or four 
miles in the Outback. I sus- 
pect this has to be some sort 
of record, for it even drew the 
attention of television crews 
covering the Solar Challenge. 

Of the six GM drivers, 
three were from the United 
States, including Molly Bren- 
nan, an engineer from the 
New Concepts Division of 

WPPs Stempel Launches 
a Bit of Engineering History 

While the General Motors Sunraycer is the product of 
several GM divisions and the experience and talent 
of dozens of engineers and technicians, it began with the 
vision of one man and the bold decision of another. It was 
Howard G. Wilson, vice president of the General Motors 
Program of the Hughes Aircraft Company, who first sug- 
gested that GM enter the Solar Challenge. 

Wilson's suggestion fell on the receptive ears of Robert 
C. Stempel '55, who assumed the presidency of GM one 
day before delivering the 1987 WPI Commencement 

It was Stempel who made the key decision to produce 
Sunraycer — to commit the resources of GM to a crash 
program to design not just a solar-powered car, but a new 
concept in automotive technology. The result is as beautiful 
as it is brilliant. 

Packed into the Sunraycer is some of the world's most 
advanced technology: lightweight materials, low-friction 
moving parts, high-efficiency solar cells, advanced motor 
and power electronics, advanced aerodynamics, experimen- 
tal batteries, and regenerative braking, a technique that 
enables the drive motor to generate energy and feed it back 
to the batteries when the driver takes his or her foot off the 

The car has the planar dimensions of a family station 
wagon, but weighs only 360 pounds— just under 550 pounds 
with driver. Its chassis weighs in at a scant 15 pounds, and 
the entire shell is less than 100 pounds! The body is made 
of a sandwich of Kevlar and Nomex. The car's bicycle- 
type tires are 17 inches high and made of Kevlar as well. 
Inside, the driver sits neatly suspended in a comfortable 
sling seat. 

Sunraycer' s drive motor is one of the most efficient power 

GM. A graduate of Michigan 
State University, where she 
studied computer engineering 
and the humanities, she was 
also a Rhodes Scholar. Dur- 
ing the race, Molly drove 
three segments, including one 
over a rough section of road 
under construction and an- 
other on a stretch newly re- 
surfaced with asphalt and 
pebbles. Both surfaces caused 
tire failures, but the crack 
GM race team had the tires 
replaced in under two min- 
utes. These were the only 
mechanical problems Sunray- 
cer suffered in the whole length 
of the Solar Challenge, a tes- 
tament to the quality of the 
design and engineering that 
went into it. 


Driver Molly Brennan 
and a GM crew member 

PRESSION of the Australian 
Outback was of a vast, deso- 
late land with precious few 
people, stretching from trop- 
ical in the north to barren in 
the south. Traveling down the 
Stuart Highway, I was in awe 
as I realized that this wilder- 
ness extended uninterrupted 
to the east or west for more 

42 SPRING 1988 


bert Stempel '55 (center) with the drivers and crew of 
iraycer. Stempel's decision launched the Sunraycer project. 

plants ever produced. Dubbed "Magnequench" to describe 
its powerful permanent magnets, the motor produces a 
steady two horsepower with a capacity for 10 horsepower 
bursts. It weighs less than 10 pounds. 

The car's photovoltaic array is made of 7,200 gallium 
arsenide solar cells, made by GM's subsidiary, Hughes 
Aircraft Company, and other manufacturers. The solar cells 
used by the other challengers were made of less expensive, 
but also less efficient, silicon. GM also used a different 
approach to mounting the cells, gluing them directly onto 
the streamlined, teardrop-shaped body of the car to reduce 
drag. Most competitors used a bulky overhead panel, tend- 
ing to make these cars look as if they were hauling their 
arrays rather than integrating them into the car's 

The peak output from Sunraycer' s eight square meters of 
solar cells is 1,500 watts. That's the power consumed by 
an ordinary countertop toaster. But 1,500 watts can drive 

than a thousand miles. 

On one of our safari's first 
nights in the Outback, we 
camped at Barrow Creek. 
This place is on every map, 
even though it is nothing 
more than a gas station. We 
were welcomed to this out- 
post with a downpour that left 
four inches of rain and even 
deeper red mud. Should it 
have surprised us when the 
family who operates the gas 
station told us it had not 
rained there in 13 years? 

During the night, they had 
taken their two pet kangaroos 
indoors for fear that the storm 
would frighten the animals. It 
may have been the storm or 
my unexpected arrival at the 
house that caused one of these 

fascinating animals to hop 
through an open door into my 
arms. So there I was, holding 
this excited kangaroo, hoping 
its master would come to my 

The Stuart Highway is 
strewn with the carcasses of 
kangaroos and other animals 
killed by the monstrous road 
trains, which, having no 
chance of slowing down as 
they cruise at 100 miles per 
hour (there are no speed lim- 
its in this part of Australia), 
simply plow aside any animal 
unfortunate enough to get in 
their way. The cabs are fitted 
with "roo bars" — gratings of 
two-inch-diameter steel pipes 
—that enable them to hit ani- 
mals as large as cattle and 

Sunraycer at 45 miles per hour— trickle charging the batter- 
ies at the same time— and up to 70 miles per hour if 
augmented by the solar-charged batteries. In photovoltaics, 
the name of the game is efficiency. Sunraycer' s silver-zinc 
batteries, also produced by Hughes Aircraft, are one-fifth 
the weight of lead-acid batteries used in most cars. 

AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., created the 
sleek, low-drag design of Sunraycer. The company has had 
plenty of experience in the design of lightweight vehicles. 
Its founder, Paul MacCready, designed the Solar Chal- 
lenger, the first aircraft to cross the English Channel pow- 
ered entirely by the sun. 

MacCready was awarded an honorary doctor of engi- 
neering degree from WPI in 1980. His degree citation 
stated, in part, that his aerodynamic designs "have lifted 
our spirits, fired our imaginations and expanded our hori- 
zons. He has given us all a new sense of the possibilities 
of our bodies and of our technology." 

Though GM had a clear advantage with its technology, 
the company left little to chance. Racing experts were 
brought in to carefully study the Stuart Highway and devise 
tactics for the race. One of those tactics, which had the 
driver use extra power for the first 15 minutes of the com- 
petition, helped give Sunraycer a lead it never relinquished. 

During the race, technicians in an air-conditioned trailer 
followed the solar car and monitored its energy consump- 
tion and production, the weather and road conditions, wind 
speed and other key factors. They used a computer to help 
the drivers get the maximum performance from the motor 
and make the best use of the battery charge. 

Despite the success of Sunraycer, GM says it has no 
plans to mass-market solar-powered cars. I had asked that 
question openly and publicly — with GM chairman Roger 
Smith present— back in Detroit after the unveiling of Sun- 
raycer. Later that day, a number of GM design engineers 
thanked me for raising the question. Apparently, some at 
the nation's largest auto maker would like to produce a 
solar-powered commuter car. —EC 

water buffalo without being 
damaged. Both are numerous 
in the Outback; the road car- 
nage made that clear. 

Road trains closing in on 
our safari at a relative speed 
of 150 miles per hour took 
their half of the highway out 
of three-quarters of the road. 
The Stuart Highway is two 
lanes wide in most places, so 
you don't play the road game 
of chicken — or kangaroo — 
unless you are prepared to 
end up alongside the unfortu- 
nate animals themselves. 

The weather during the So- 
lar Challenge was unusually 
cloudy and wet for a late 
Australian spring. It's im- 
pressive to see solar cars roll- 
ing in the sunshine — sleek, 

quiet and smokeless. It's even 
more impressive to watch 
them cruising under clouds — 
not too fast, of course, unless 
they are drawing upon the so- 
lar-charge of their batteries. 

Because this much-needed 
precipitation coincided with 
the race, Australia's farmers 
are probably praying for the 
return of these strange vehi- 
cles again next year. Actu- 
ally, the next Challenge race 
is not scheduled until 1990. 

to you my impressions of the 
Australian Odyssey without 
telling you about Hans Thol- 
strup, the Solar Challenge or- 
ganizer. It is now universally 
recognized that this single 


event has created the greatest 
degree of public awareness of 
solar photovoltaics in the 30- 
year history of the technol- 
ogy. In Tholstrup you will 
find a nonengineer, nonscien- 
tist who has shown us a vi- 
sion of the future of engineer- 
ing and science. 

Tholstrup was raised in a 
wealthy Danish family with 
roots in cheese and wine- 
making. By his own admis- 
sion, Hans did not fit into the 
scheme of what he might call 
passive education. Instead, he 
has created his own brand of 
education, lifelong learning 
through what most of us 
would call high adventure. 
Once, he piloted a speedboat 
solo from Denmark across the 
Atlantic to Maine, stopping 
only to refuel in Iceland and 
Newfoundland. He holds the 
record for circling the globe 
in the smallest aircraft ever to 
achieve that feat— after taking 
a total of 10 days of flying 
lessons from six of the best 
pilots in the U.S. He has 
sailed around the Australian 
continent in a small boat and, 
about two years ago, he be- 
came the first to drive a solar 
car across Australia from west 
to east. 

Currently, Tholstrup is 
planning a solo trek to the 
South Pole using a "solar 
dogsled." He says he will be 
ready to go in January 1989, 
during a month when the sun 
never sets in Antarctica. The 
vehicle will be totally solar 

powered. He will carry kero- 
sene only to melt snow for 
drinking water and cooking. 

At one point during the 
race, Hans and I traveled to- 
gether in his sports car at a 
speed that reflects his life- 
style while we searched for 
two of the Australian cars ap- 
proaching Adelaide. During 
our ride, he told me that he 
became an Australian citizen 
about 10 years ago, in part to 
fight what he considers to be 
rising socialism there. 

Tholstrup's view of life is 
that if it's not exciting, per- 
haps it's not worth living at 
all. He argues that day-to-day 
life is not ordinary if you try 
to create positive change in 
that life. 

In response to Hans Thol- 
strup's vision and initiative, 
GM has been able to create a 
solar car using the most ad- 
vanced technology in all ele- 
ments of vehicle design and 
to create what is a major con- 
tribution to humankind. 

Somewhere in the Out- 
back, Tholstrup compared 
GM's achievement to that of 
the Wright brothers. "It's 
simply as important as that," 
he said. "GM has done for 
energy efficiency what John 
Kennedy did for the space 
program. It's a little 

Edward Clarke is director of 
the WPI Center for Solar 
Electrification and professor 
of engineering science. 

At a pit stop, Sunraycer shows off its unusual profile to 
a crowd of spectators. 

Ed Clarke: 
Still Blazing 
New Trails 

As solar cells draw their 
power from the sun, Ed 
Clarke seems to get his en- 
ergy from the power of new 
ideas and the exploration of 
uncharted territory. 

In 1950, after receiving an undergraduate degree in en- 
gineering from Brown University, two master's in applied 
physics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in physics from Brown, 
Clarke joined Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., as a mem- 
ber of the technical staff working on semiconductors. 

Back then, semiconductor science, the foundation of 
modern electronics, was a new field, and Clarke was one 
of its founders. He became a group head for research at 
Sperry Rand Corporation's semiconductor division, and in 
1959 helped found the National Semiconductor Corpora- 
tion, where he served as vice president until 1965. 

Along the way, Clarke's work stayed on the leading edge 
of this rapidly advancing field of electronics. He led in the 
creation of transistors that helped make possible the first 
test launching of the Minuteman I missile as well as elec- 
tronic devices incorporated in the F- 104 fighter aircraft. 

He led the team that produced the world's first mass- 
produced integrated circuit. ICs, also called microchips, 
made possible everything from digital watches to personal 
computers. His work earned him three patents, including 
one for a basic method used by the entire semiconductor 
industry for manufacturing transistors and integrated 

Clarke joined WPI in 1965. As director of research and 
associate dean of graduate studies, he helped start a pro- 
gram of scholarship and graduate studies that continues to 
grow today. It was as research dean that he caught the solar 

In 1975, in the wake of the first national energy crisis, 
he worked to interest WPI faculty in solar energy research. 
When it became clear that the federal government in- 
tended to establish a national Solar Energy Research Insti- 
tute, he lent his efforts to the drive to bring the lab to 

When he began to think about stepping down as dean, 
Clarke saw a chance to devote himself full time to students 
and solar power, which he believes can impact society as 
significantly as the semiconductor did. 

As founder and director of the Center for Solar Electri- 
fication, he directs student projects in solar photovoltaics. 
Under his guidance, WPI undergraduates have carried solar 
arrays and the wonders of solar energy to the far comers of 
the world, from the Penobscot Indians in Maine to remote 
mountain huts along the Appalachian Trail. 

Clarke reports that interest among WPI students in his 
solar car adventure has run high. In response, he has cre- 
ated nine new projects related to solar cars and worldwide 
solar car competitions. —Michael Dorsey 

44 SPRING 1988 


Do We Need Leadership in Higher Education? 

By Dr. Jon C. Strauss 

Leadership. It's a concept that's be- 
ing talked about a lot nowadays in 
business and government. It's nat- 
ural to wonder whether leadership is also 
something we in higher education should 
be thinking more about. 

With the inertia of the tenure system, 
the lack of authority in collegial gover- 
nance and the many disparate perfor- 
mance measures imposed on colleges 
and universities, we must question the 
role, form and effectiveness of leader- 
ship in the college and university envi- 

John W. Gardner, founder of Common 
Cause, says leadership is "the empow- 
erment of others." By empowering, 
leaders reinforce worth, develop compe- 
tence, foster community and, most im- 
portant, assure enjoyment. 

However, leadership has its risks. The 
popular image has a charismatic leader 
on a white charger out in front of his 
troops. But the troops aren't always 
happy when they recognize that only the 
leader gets a change in scenery. Clearly, 
part of a leader's role is gaining accep- 
tance among the troops for the rewards 
of their success. 

Three specific leadership challenges 
for colleges and universities, Gardner 
notes, are fostering leadership, encour- 
aging educational breadth and develop- 
ing intuitive understanding of the 

At WPI, we have met these challenges 
successfully in our undergraduate pro- 
gram. Through the Humanities Suffi- 
ciency and the Interactive Qualifying 
Project, the WPI Plan develops breadth 
of interest and a fundamental grounding 
in American culture. And the project 
system, with its team organization, 
builds leadership skills. 

One of my greatest pleasures as pres- 
ident of WPI is listening to the rave re- 
views our students receive from corpo- 
rate recruiters, employers and graduate 

school deans. They laud our graduates 
for their problem-solving and communi- 
cation skills, but they are especially 
complimentary of their ability to lead 
and of their confidence. These observa- 
tions are reinforced by the remarkable 
career success of our graduates. 

The WPI Alumni Association has 
profited from and has played a major 
role in developing the outstanding lead- 
ership skills of its officers and its Coun- 
cil and Fund Board members. Service as 
trustee also provides ample opportunity 
for leadership development for the ben- 
efit of WPI. And WPI has benefited sig- 
nificantly from the leadership of its past 
presidents, deans and officers. 

However, it is in the faculty of WPI 
where I see the greatest past success and 
the greatest future promise for leader- 
ship. Two decades ago, the faculty dem- 
onstrated remarkable innovation and 
dedication in developing and implement- 
ing the Plan. They met all the challenges 
of leadership except one. Although the 
Plan has had a significant influence on 
educational thinking, it has not been 

Warren Bennis, former president of the 
University of Cincinnati and a scholar of 

leadership, said that "managers do 
things right, leaders do the right things." 
The Plan was the "right thing" for stu- 
dents, though it proved so costly in fac- 
ulty effort that no other institution has 
found it possible to adopt. 

While the Plan has been one of our 
most successful demonstrations of fac- 
ulty leadership, it is also the cause of 
our greatest leadership challenge. Partly 
because of the time demands of the Plan 
and partly because of the rewards of its 
perfection, some of our faculty drifted 
out of the mainstream of scholarship and 
research during the 1970s. Fortunately, 
in the early 1980s, other faculty mem- 
bers recognized that the Plan could only 
be sustained by active faculty scholar- 
ship and spoke out for a greater empha- 
sis on scholarship and research. 

Their demands led to the hiring in 
1984 of Richard H. Gallagher, provost 
and vice president for academic affairs, 
and myself in 1985. We have been ac- 
tively engaged since then in helping fac- 
ulty members realize their ambitious 
plans for improving scholarship while 
retaining and enhancing the Plan. A 
number of quantitative indicators dem- 
onstrate significant initial success. 

Well, this brings us full circle. I began 
by asking whether leadership makes a 
difference in higher education. The an- 
swer has to be a resounding yes! 

As most members of the WPI family 
know, we are now engaged in the task of 
raising $52.5 million over the five-year 
period ending on Founders Day, Novem- 
ber 11, 1990 — the 125th anniversary of 
the founding of WPI. The Campaign for 
Excellence will provide the resources 
needed to reinforce the inherent quality 
of the Plan and build excellence in 
scholarship and research. We all stand 
to gain from this endeavor and, conse- 
quently, we all will be called upon to 
play a leadership role. I know we can 
count on you. 

Jon Strauss is president of WPI. 



Worcester's Minority Students 
See Their Hopes Rise on WPI's COMET 

By Denise R. Rodino 

Across the country, insti- 
tutions like WPI are 
searching for ways to 
attack the nation's critical 
shortage of minority engi- 
neers and scientists. WPI's 
100 minority students make 
up just under 4 percent of the 
undergraduate student body, 
a figure all agree is 

In the fall of 1985, a group 
of WPI faculty members be- 
gan to ask how the school 
members could attract more 
minority students. Their conclusion ech- 
oes the results of national surveys: Most 
minority students do not get the training 
or encouragement they need to pursue 
careers in technology and science. There 
is simply no pool of minority students 
for WPI to draw on. 

Nationwide, the solution would seem 
to lie not in better college admissions 
recruiting, but in attacking the problem 
at its source by preparing minority stu- 
dents to attend college. 

This realization gave birth to Career 
Opportunities Merging Education and 
Technology (COMET). Working with 
the Worcester public schools and a 
Worcester-based organization called 
ALPA (the Latin-American Progress 
Association), WPI faculty designed a 
program to help educate junior and sen- 
ior high school students and motivate 
them toward college enrollment and, 
ultimately, careers in science and 

In 1986, a $30,000 grant from GTE 
Corporation's Focus program brought 
the plan into reality, and two subsequent 
grants from the Massachusetts Board of 
Regents, totaling $145,000, have helped 
broaden and refine it. 

Today, more that 20 WPI students- 
undergraduate and graduate— work with 
60 Worcester high school students and 

60 students from the Burncoat Middle 
School. COMET Director Bruce Young- 
Candelaria began using WPI students 
when it became apparent that what 
younger students need most is individual 
attention, not lectures, field trips, or 
even remedial classes. 

In the high schools, WPI students 
work after school two days a week as 
tutors. During two-hour sessions, they 
help students with homework, teach ba- 
sic concepts and work on their charges' 
English skills. They also serve as role 
models and friends. 

"We seek to create both an academic 
and a social atmosphere," Young-Can- 
delaria notes, "where students and tu- 
tors can exchange impressions about 
high school and college life and talk 
about career opportunities." 

In the middle school, COMET is a 
teaching rather than a tutoring program. 
WPI students use classroom time and 
innovative demonstrations to give stu- 
dents individualized instruction in com- 
puter science. One project, for example, 
involves building a Heathkit robot that 
will become the school's mascot. As 
they help with the assembly, students get 
a rare glimpse into the workings of a 
robot and its computer brain. 

At the high school level, both tutors 
and students are paid for their efforts, a 
practice Young-Candelaria staunchly 


"These students can drop 
out of high school today and 
make $5 to $6 an hour doing 
menial labor at any of the 
warehouses down the street," 
he notes. "Of course, most 
of them will still be in the 
same job 10 years from now, 
but high school students don't 
often think that far ahead." 

By paying students for their 
attendance, Young-Cande- 
laria says, "we're telling 
them their time is valuable 
and nothing is of more value 
than an education." 
Like a job, the program makes de- 
mands on students. They must demon- 
strate motivation to their teachers and 
guidance counselors before they are ac- 
cepted into the program. Once enrolled, 
they are paid by the hour and fired for 
poor attendance, or if their motivation 
or work ethic falters. 

The program's success is judged by 
increases in such standard measurements 
as grades and test scores. Both tutors 
and students say it seems to be working. 
What's next? Young-Candelaria would 
like to see a summer camp develop from 
COMET. WPI Professor Susan Vernon- 
Gerstenfeld, who began working with 
COMET this year, hopes to involve IQP 
students in research relevant to the 

With two years of "graduates," it is 
now possible to begin tracking the suc- 
cess of the students. This information 
will help in planning the future of the 
program and ensuring that COMET will 
not only continue to benefit tutors and 
their students, but also that WPI will 
continue to contribute to meeting a na- 
tional challenge. 

Denise Rodino is director of foundation 
relations at WPI. 

46 SPRING 1988 


WPI Marks the First Century 
of Alonzo Kimball's Seal 

By Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 

"We never have been 

able to learn why the 

school has not adopted 

a seal. We were once 

shown the 'thing ' on the 

back of the catalog and 

assured that it was a 


The W.T.I.,2i monthly WPI 

student publication, February 


With those words, a group of stu- 
dent editors threw down the 
gauntlet to the WPI community, 
seeking to set right what they saw as a 
longstanding wrong. Though the college 
was 22 years old, it had yet to adopt an 
official college seal. 

Change was in the air in 1887. The 
college had only recently changed its 
name from Worcester County Free Insti- 
tute of Industrial Science to Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute. (While the school 
was known informally as Worcester 
Technical Institute for several years— a 
name adopted by the student publication 
quoted above— this name was never of- 
ficially approved.) 

Many students responded to The 
W.T.I. 's challenge by submitting propos- 
als for a seal. But it was Professor 
Alonzo S. Kimball, the popular head of 
physics and electrical engineering, who 
developed the seal which was adopted 
by the Board of Trustees in 1888, 100 
years ago this year. 

Kimball's seal included several key el- 
ements, most notably two open books, 
an arm and hammer, a heart, and a ban- 
ner with the German motto Lehr Und 
Kunst (Learning and Skilled Arts). In 
Seventy Years of the Worcester Polytech- 
nic Institute, Herbert F. Taylor '12 de- 
scribed the symbolism of these items: 

The heart is from the seal of the City of 
Worcester, the Heart of the Common- 
wealth. The German motto was selected 
to indicate the combination of academic 
learning, also symbolized by the books, 
and practical arts, symbolized by the arm 
and hammer. The latter device was 
adopted at the opening of the Institute in 
1868. The use of a German legend was 
probably due to the vogue of that lan- 
guage in the '80s. 

For an official date, Kimball chose 
1868, the year the Institute opened. The 
stained glass window on the west end of 
Boynton Hall was based on this design 
and includes this date. In later versions 
of the seal the date was changed to 1865, 
the date of the Institute's founding. 

Kimball's seal has undergone other 
changes over the years. Several type- 
faces have been used and the seal has 
appeared with "fluting" around its edge, 
representing the pattern left when a seal 
is pressed into sealing wax. And in the 
early 1960s, the German motto on the 
seal printed on some sweatshirts sold in 
the WPI Bookstore had degenerated into 

When the college prepared to cele- 
brate its centennial in 1965, it was de- 
cided to establish an official version of 
the seal, which, while not copyrighted, 
is a trademark of the Institute. 

With the help of an artist, a standard 
seal emerged. Actually, three standards 

were decided upon, varying 
only in the amount of detail . 
The larger the intended size 
of the printed seal, the more 
detail it contains. 

While it was the lack of a 
school seal that most vexed 
WPI students in the 1880s, 
they also lamented the ab- 
sence of school colors. After 
watching a football game in 
1886, a student wrote a letter 
to the editor of The W.T.I. He 
noted that members of the 
opposing team all wore uni- 
forms of the same color. At 
WPI, he said, it was tradi- 
tional for each class to choose its own 
colors, causing confusion for football 

While details of the adoption of school 
colors are vague, a choice was made. 
Long fabled in college songs as crimson 
and gray, the accepted colors are actu- 
ally maroon and gray. 

As the seal was being formalized in 
the 1960s, standards were also set for 
the colors. Preserved in the Alumni Of- 
fice were two pieces of antique ribbon 
considered to represent the original 
choices. These were matched with stan- 
dard color samples used by printers. 

It seems clear that Professor Kimball 
never intended for the seal itself to be 
reproduced in color. Still, attempts have 
been made over the years to design a 
full-color version. The Boynton Hall 
stained glass window and the carved 
wooden seal in Harrington Auditorium 
are two examples. Though they differ 
significantly in color, both are consid- 
ered official. 

It's been 100 years since WPI em- 
braced Professor Kimball's seal. Most 
aspects of college life have changed since 
then, but this seal has remained a stan- 
dard that still boldly proclaims WPI's 
guiding principles. 

Roger Perry is director of campaign 
communications at WPI. 



After two years in the mountains of Nepal. 

Dan Laprade '85 ponders culture shock, 

values and human obsolescence 

By Amy Zuckerman Overvold 

It is a long way from the mountains of 
Nepal to the high-pressure, high-tech 
corporate world of America. 

Just ask Dan Laprade '85. He re- 
turned this winter from a two-year stint 
designing and building water systems 
with the Peace Corps in the highest na- 
tion on earth and is still reeling from 
culture shock. 

"I haven't touched a computer in two 
years," he sighs, neatly delineating the 
problems engineers can face making the 
transition from work in the Third World 
to employment in an industrial society. 
While the work he did in Nepal was 
useful and fulfilling, he says it was also 
a far cry from the technologically ad- 
vanced jobs he set his sights on when he 

Laprade 's two years in Nepal were a 
real push-and-pull for a young man 
"looking for a challenge." He worried 
frequently about slipping behind tech- 
nologically, but the needs of the Nepal- 
ese — and the rewards of making a con- 
tribution—would pull him back. In fact, 
they almost kept him .there. 

Laprade was in the middle of inspect- 
ing water projects when his tour ended. 
Wanting to see his work through to com- 
pletion, he thought about signing up for 
another two years. Peace Corps veterans 
urged him to reconsider, explaining that 
there would always be more work to be 
done no matter how long he stayed. 

And Laprade began to wonder what 
he would say to an employer if he hadn't 
touched a computer for four years. 
"What if I am obsolete at the age of 
28?" he would ask himself. He decided 
it was time to come home. 

Despite his worries, Laprade says he 
wouldn't have traded away his years in 

"When I graduated from WPI," he 
says, "I could have gone the hectic, cor- 
porate avenue. I could have, but I 
thought Nepal would be a challenge." 
It was, though not in the ways La- 

if -1TM-' * »- J .J^^KJrfe**. . -ei~, 


"When I graduated from WPI, 

I could have gone the hectic, 

corporate avenue. 

But I thought Nepal would 

be a challenge." 

prade had expected. He said life in Ne- 
pal is slow and seems inefficient to an 
outsider. Yet this environment forced 
him to be creative and constructive and 
to take the initiative. 

Most of his WPI education proved far 
too advanced for the simple water sys- 
tems he designed or inspected in out- 
lying villages. But he found value in 
doing something that "wasn't a textbook 

He also learned something about hard, 
manual labor in the mountains of Nepal. 
Laprade was assigned the task of bring- 
ing water to a remote village near Ya- 
suk, where the inhabitants had previ- 
ously spent three hours a day fetching 

In the absence of trailers, workers car- 
ried piping on their backs through miles 
of rugged terrain. To keep the pipes be- 
low the frost line, Laprade 's crew dug 
30-inch trenches in ground often the 
consistency of concrete without the ben- 
efit of jackhammers or backhoes. 

The work wasn't as arduous as it 
sounds, Laprade says, nor was it the 
hardest part of his time in the Peace 
Corps. Far more trying, he says, was 
adjusting to "taking things as they 
come" and making decisions he did not 
feel qualified to make. 

And Laprade says he got used to the 
food and to sleeping in huts, but he never 
quite got over his homesickness. "Peo- 
ple draw you back," he says. "There 
isn't much social life in Nepal. You al- 
ways desire to see your family and 
friends again." 

As remote as his Nepalese village was, 
it wasn't too isolated for one of La- 
prade's WPI classmates to visit him, as 
Geoffrey Strange did in 1986 during a 
tour of Asia (for more, see TheWire, 
spring 1987). 

As his time in the Himalayas wore on, 
Laprade says he "dreamed of settling 
down and getting established [in the 
United States]. I thought of getting a 
nice job and making money. Of being 

48 SPRING 1988 

Since he has been back, he has thought 
of working with international organiza- 
tions or corporations. International de- 
velopment work was also an option, he 
says, adding that recruiters have told him 
"the ball is in your court." "The Peace 
Corps experience," Laprade says, "gives 
me something above a new graduate." 

For all his concerns about becoming 
obsolete, Laprade says joining the Peace 
Corps "was the best thing I could do. I 
got a chance to step away from my cul- 
ture and put things in perspective." 

And, he says he can better appreciate 
why the United States is a major power. 
Although he dislikes the hectic pace of 
corporate America, he can see "that's 
why we are the country we are" and 
why the laid-back attitude in countries 
like Nepal only serves to perpetuate 
Third World poverty and suffering. 

If he could, Laprade says he would 
combine the best of both worlds — cou- 
pling the serenity of the Himalayas with 
American drive. For now, though, he 
will be happy just to have a job. 

Amy Zuckerman Overvold is a free-lance 
writer living in Worcester. 

Above: Dan Laprade '85 lectures to schoolchildren in the Nepalese village where 
he lived for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. Below: villagers untie pipe to 
be used in the water systems Laprade designed and helped build. 

EXCELLENCE IS... Merl Norcross,, 


Len's track and field teams coached by Merl Norcross have 
enjoyed 20 consecutive winning seasons, two of those undefeated. 

"Winning is important," says Merl, "but the real reward of 
coaching at WPI is in helping student athletes achieve 
their full potential — in everything they da" 


Merl's induction into the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame 
in 1986 reflects how much his coaching philosophy 
has meant to students past and present. 

In 1986, WPI Renovated Alumni Field, including the 
installation of Synthetic surfaces on the running track 
and playing field. Costing some $1.9 million, this 
was the only practical solution to meeting WPI's 
dramatic increase in field use by all kinds of varsity/ 
intramural, physfed and recreational athletes. 

For Merl Norcrosj* and his fellow coaches, 

renewal of, Ah 



ii Field was an added bonus: today, 
[ for the first time, the quality of WPFs 
I outdoor athletic facilities matches the 
quality^ the WPI teams they coach. 

ist as Merl Norcross 
has laid a foundation of 
e^111|t€e atWPT, you 
tjoo can help ensure the 
l!te Institute. 

Veteran Track and Field and 
Cross Country Coaclif 

Support the Campaign for Excellence 









1 1 '•*» 




S* i;: *- 



*•"> ^K^ ,5 S >. 




^ ' gjgflfc 


S I " A 

Higgins House garage. Photo by [^ ^^ 

Michael Carroll. Black-and-white 

A 01609. 



SUMMER 1988 


Staff of the WPI Journal: Publisher, 
Kenneth L. McDonnell • Editor, Michael W. 
Dorsey • Alumni Information Editor, Ruth S. 

Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel 
Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary '71 
• Judith Donahue, SIM '82 • William J. Firla, 
Jr. '60 • Maureen Sexton Horgan '83 • Carl 
A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54. 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is pub- 
lished quarterly for the WPI Alumni Associ- 
ation by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Magazine Con- 
sortium, with editorial offices at the Johns 
Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages I-XVI are published for the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium [Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, Villanova University, Western Mary- 
land College, Western Reserve College (Case 
Western Reserve University), Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute] and appear in the re- 
spective alumni magazines of those institu- 
tions. Second class postage paid at Worces- 
ter, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Pages 1-16, 33-48 ® 1988, Worcester Poly- 
technic Institute. Pages I-XVI ® 1988, Johns 
Hopkins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine Consor- 
tium: Editor, Donna Shoemaker • Wrap De- 
signer and Production Coordinators, Amy 
Doudiken Wells and Cecily Roberts • Assis- 
tant Editors, Julia Ridgely and Sue De- 
Pasquale • Consulting Editors, Alan Sea and 
Elise Hancock • Core Designers, Allen Car- 
roll and Amy Doudiken Wells. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Johns Hopkins University, B.J. 
Norris and Alan Sea • Villanova University, 
Eugene J. Ruane and D.M. Howe • Western 
Maryland College, Joyce Muller and Sherri 
Kimmel Diegel ■ Western Reserve College, 
David C. Twining • Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute, Michael Dorsey and Kenneth L. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, BG Com- 
position, Inc.; Printing, American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of public interest are 
presented in the magazine. These views do not 
necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or 
official policies of WPI. Address correspon- 
dence to the Editor, The WPI Journal, Worces- 
ter Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609. 
Telephone (508)831-5616. Postmaster: If unde- 
liverable please send form 3579 to the address 
above. Do not return publication. 

8 Worcester Makes a Comeback Amy Zuckerman 

The former mill town is fast becoming a modern city. 

/ Electronics in the Body Shop Marshall Ledger 

A new generation of implants will replace human parts. 

VIII The day Nixon broke into the Ken Sokolow 

office of the dean 

. . . and other anecdotes from presidential college days. 

XII Photo Winners 

Results of our contest for readers. 

33 The Shape of Things to Come Paul a. Susca 

Stretching the limits of engineering computation. 

40 The Myth of High-Priced Higher 

The numbers tell a different story. 

Jon C. Strauss '/-A 

W ■■< 






Page 8 

44 The Entrepreneurial Spirit Michael w. Dorsey 

Ron Howard '77 launches a successful software company. 


2 Advance Word: Goodbye "Wormtown." Michael W Dorsey 

3 Communique: Tuition hikes: behind the scenes. Jon C. Strauss 

4 Input: The lesson of the Japanese miracle. John F. Zeugner 

5 Inside WPI: Reaching out to the world. Kenneth L. McDonnell 

6 Investigations: New applications for inorganic membranes. 

7 Explorations: Making safer baby walkers; photography pioneers. 

47 Memory Bank: The naval invasion of WPI. Roger N. Perry, Jr. 

48 Final Word: The science of making music. Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Page 44 

Cover: The old and the new Worcester contrast in this 
view of City Hall reflected in the Shawmut bank tower. 
Story on page 8. Photo by Robert Arnold. 



Goodbye "Wormtown" 

Not long ago, rock superstar Bruce 
Springsteen came to Worcester to 
launch his latest national tour. Be- 
cause his appearance at the Centrum was 
the first opportunity for the national 
press to sample the Boss's "Tunnel of 
Love Express," Worcester, for a few 
days, became the entertainment capital 
of America. 

Many of the reporters who converged 
on Worcester that weekend were seeing 
New England's second-largest city for 
the first time. A few, like New York 
Times reporter Allan Gold, put their im- 
pressions in writing. 

In an article that asked "Bruce, why 
Worcester?", Gold noted that some have 
called the city a "dreary backwater 
whose sole attraction is its proximity to 
Boston." He summed up Worcester as a 
"gritty central Massachusetts mill 

Gold was the second Times reporter to 
disparage the city in just six months. In 
an earlier piece, Matthew Wald, writing 
about the 175th anniversary of the 
Worcester-based American Antiquarian 
Society, noted: "Aiding in the low pro- 
file of the Society is its improbable lo- 
cation. Boston, with its many colleges, 
clearly can lay claim to being the na- 
tion's library. 

"By contrast, Worcester, a former 
railroad center with such industries as 
cardboard box manufacturing and met- 
al working, can be considered Massachu- 
setts' utility closet." 

That didn't sit well with city resi- 
dents, hardline supporters and critics 
alike. Letters were fired off to the Times 
editors. Worcester was not going to take 
such abuse anymore. 

That Worcesterites got hot under the 
collar is expected. That they did some- 
thing about it is not. For many years, 
Worcester has been content to sit back 
while the world passed it by on the way 
to Boston, Hartford and Providence. But 
things are changing. There is a new 
sense of excitement in the air in Worces- 
ter. There is a refreshing sense of pride 

Work progresses at the site of Fuller Laboratories. (See the back cover for an 
artist's rendering of the new building.) 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

in a city some residents once called 

Culturally, economically, demograph- 
ically and politically, Worcester is 
emerging from Boston's shadow and 
from its own inward-looking, industrial 
past. Our cover story by Amy Zucker- 
man, a lifelong Worcester resident, looks 
at these changes and how they have 
transformed the city. Robert Arnold's 
stunning photographs offer full-color 
proof of the dramatic rebirth of the 
city's downtown. 

Worcester has not been alone in its 
efforts to spruce up. Over the last dec- 
ade, WPI has been at work transforming 
its campus. These changes have in- 
cluded the installation of a synthetic sur- 
face on its athletic field and track, and 
the addition of Founders Hall, a new 
residence complex that won the 1986 
Export Award from the Boston Society 
of Architects. 

In addition, the campus's two oldest 
buildings, Boynton Hall and Washburn 
Laboratories, received striking face-lifts, 
as did Salisbury and Atwater Kent Lab- 
oratories. Houses near campus have been 
restored and converted to offices for ad- 
ministrative departments. One house was 
recently turned into a new Campus Po- 
lice station. 

This summer, work began on the new- 
est phase of the campus's metamorpho- 
sis, the construction of Fuller Laborato- 
ries. The future home of the Computer 
Science Department and the college's 
computer service operations, Fuller will 
soon rise on a triangular plot of land 
bordered by Atwater Kent, Kavin Hall 
and the Gordon Library. For more than 
a century, the growth and fortunes of 
WPI and the city whose name it bears 
have been closely tied. Somehow it 
seems fitting that once again city and 
college are moving forward together. 

SUMMER 1988 


Tuition Increases: Behind the Scenes 

In February, WPI's Board 
of Trustees voted to in- 
crease tuition and fees to 
$12,000, an increase of 11.1 
percent — well in excess of the 
increase in the Consumer 
Price Index. This has led 
many to ask not only why this 
increase was needed, but how 
the price of a WPI education 
reached its current level and 
where it is likely to go in the 

As parents of a young 
child, Jean and I find these 
questions particularly com- 
pelling. If tuition and fees 
continue to increase at their 
recent average rate of 10 per- 
cent per year, by the time our 
son, Kristoffer, matriculates 
at WPI in the fall of 2005, 
tuition and fees will be 
$60,650. By his senior year, 
that cost will have risen to $80,750. I 
don't want to dwell on my own situa- 
tion, but it illustrates the kinds of con- 
cerns students and their families are go- 
ing through now, and what the families 
of our future students will face. 

Beginning on page 40 is an article I 
wrote that explains how we got to our 
current tuition levels, how our increases 
in expenditures have been consistent with 
our stated mission and how they are 
compatible with those of other institu- 
tions. The article shows that over the 10- 
year period beginning in 1975-76, 
WPI's expenditures increased by some 
three percent more per year than the 
Consumer Price Index, while tuition and 
fees increased about four percent per 
year above the index. 

The article does not, however, address 
the role that institutional competition, 
particularly between private and public 
schools, plays in increasing the cost— 
and price— of a college education. Nor 
does it focus on the question of what is 
likely to happen to tuition in the future. 
One of the principal reasons higher 

By Dr. Jon C. Strauss 

education in the United States is the envy 
of the world is that U.S. colleges and 
universities are engaged in fierce com- 
petition for students, faculty, dollars, 
and, more importantly, academic quality. 

However, competition for students is 
seldom based on price, but almost al- 
ways on quality. The key to quality is 
investment in new people and programs 
and reinvestment in the existing high- 
quality facilities of the institution. 
Hence, competition is forcing price in- 
creases rather than cost controls. 

Still, the questions remain: Why is tu- 
ition increasing this year by about seven 
percentage points more than the Con- 
sumer Price Index? And what does this 
say about future increases? The answers 
are threefold: benefits, financial aid and 
new equipment. 

The cost of providing employee bene- 
fits is increasing more than 20 percent 
this year due to extraordinary increases 
in health care costs and the federal man- 
date to equalize benefits for all employ- 

ees. Both these factors should 
have less impact next year. 

Over the last two years, we 
have increased our financial 
aid budget substantially to 
meet the full needs of, first, 
the freshman class, and now 
the freshman and sophomore 
classes. This policy will ap- 
ply to three classes in 1988- 

We believe this policy is 
vital to our efforts to continue 
providing access to a WPI 
education for students from 
the middle economic spec- 
trum, who have for so long 
been the mainstay of our stu- 
dent and alumni bodies. Un- 
fortunately, it has proved very 
expensive to expand this pol- 
icy at a time when federal and 
3> state governments are cutting 
back on student-aid funds. 
We are also involved in a major effort 
to improve student access to state-of-the- 
art laboratory equipment, as well as 
computers and telecommunications fa- 
cilities. In time, these improvements will 
be funded by the Campaign for Excel- 
lence, but the faculty and trustees agree 
that this new equipment is needed now, 
even at the cost of higher tuition. 

If this year's tuition increase was in- 
evitable, what can we say about the fu- 
ture? The continuing expansion of the 
financial aid program will contribute to 
additional higher than average increases, 
though as income from the Campaign 
for Excellence grows, tuition increases 
will likely revert to the historical norm 
of about four percent above inflation. 
And if a new presidential administration 
can hold down inflation, it should be 
possible to keep tuition increases well 
below 10 percent while maintaining— 
and enhancing— the quality of a WPI 

Jon C. Strauss is president of WPI. 



Why We May Never Learn the Most Important Lesson 
of the Japanese Miracle 

With no appreciable 
natural resources, 
more than 90 percent 
of its energy imported, and 
its industrial base leveled just 
43 years ago, Japan— solely 
through the talent, industry 
and commitment of its peo- 
ple—has today achieved the 
highest per capita income of 
any industrialized nation and 
one of the world's most suc- 
cessful economies. 

Many commentators say 
there are lessons that can be 
abstracted from Japanese cul- 
ture which, if adopted, could 
spur a similar economic mir- 
acle here at home. Indeed, individual 
pieces of the Japanese approach have 
been transplanted to the United States 
with amazing results. But adopting those 
pieces may not be enough, for there is 
an important element missing — what the 
Japanese call amae. Literally, the word 
means sweet, but it has many connota- 
tions and may be best translated as the 
brilliant Japanese psychiatrist Takeo Doi 
did in the title of his book, The Anatomy 
of Dependence . 

When I taught at Keio University in 
Tokyo, my students insisted that West- 
ern psychiatry had ignored the largest, 
most important element of the human 
psyche— the need for dependence, the 
desire to be in a hierarchical arrange- 
ment that enables one to depend on a 
superior in return for one's loyalty. 

The most fundamental amae occurs, 
Doi argues, in the mother-child relation- 
ship, but the Japanese, recognizing its 
profound nature, recreate it in all inter- 
actions. That is why status is so impor- 
tant in Japan— in student-teacher rela- 
tionships, in employee-company 
relationships and in citizen-nation rela- 
tionships. Everywhere, the Japanese 
seek the security of amae, which uncon- 
ditionally protects the inferior and gives 
to the superior absolute loyalty. 

By John F. Zeugner 

The concept of amae seems to puzzle 
Westerners. Most Americans are famil- 
iar with it only in negative contexts— for 
example, through the arguments of 19th- 
century defenders of the slave system. 
But, at least through sports, Americans 
are well acquainted with the notions of 
teamwork, subordination, hierarchy and 
mergence of role with self. 

Amae provides a way of thinking about 
life in terms beyond the self and does it 
automatically. This orientation gives the 
Japanese a terrific edge in making 
choices, finding harmonies and estab- 
lishing priorities. 

At Osaka University, I taught a stu- 
dent named Yoshida who wanted to en- 
ter the foreign service, but failed his oral 
exam. His remaining choices included 
taking a position with the prefectural 
government of his home town, working 
for an electric company or entering a 
brand-new graduate school of business 
and government service for an intensive, 
three-year period of study in interna- 

tional economics and culture. 
He wrote me asking what 
to do. I said the first two 
choices seemed, from what I 
knew of Japan, preferable. 
The school was a question 
mark. What companies or 
agencies would hire its grad- 
uates, since they would have 
an unknown status? And, 
conscious pursuit of interna- 
tionalization seemed, in 1979 
Japan, an aberrant act. 

"After many weeks of con- 
sultation," he wrote back, "I 
decided to enter the school 
and to do my best in the long 
course of training. I felt this 
decision would be difficult, but it would 
be the best thing for Japan— even if now 
Japan does not know it. I am sorry to 
disappoint your advice." 

It is the greatest failure of our educa- 
tion, of our society, of the tenor of our 
times, that we seem unable to grant to 
our students, if not the conviction of 
Yoshida's words, then the language of 
his expression. It is not that we have to 
buy into amae or some pale substitute, 
but that we rather desperately have to 
find ways, vocabularies, inclinations and 
motivations so we may pass along to the 
next generation, and our own, the ability 
to choose issues beyond the self, beyond 
independence, beyond immediate ca- 
reerist, consumerist fascinations. The 
culture that provides deeply, automati- 
cally, unconsciously such mechanisms 
will survive. The rest of us will simply 
evaporate, despite our high or low tech- 
nologies, our pleated or unpleated 

John Zeugner is the Paris Fletcher Pro- 
fessor of Humanities at WPI. Between 
1976 and 1978, he was Fulbright Senior 
Lecturer at Osaka and Kobe universities 
in Japan. He returned to Japan in 1981 
to spend two years as visiting professor 
at Keio University. 

SUMMER 1988 


Reach Out and Touch Someone 

By Kenneth L. McDonnell 

One impact of technological devel- 
opment is the shrinking of the 
global neighborhood. Often it's the 
least developed cultures that are most at 
risk of losing their identity in the 

Meanwhile, practicing engineers say 
their professional success now hinges 
more on their ability to work with peo- 
ple than on their design of innovative 

It is squarely at this interface of tech- 
nology and human interaction that many 
of today's key engineering challenges 

On Boynton Hill, the faculty's con- 
cerns over cross-cultural issues are at the 
heart of a new student project initiative. 
The Center for International Studies 
(CIS) comprises more than 20 members 
of the faculty whose cultural roots range 
from Denmark, Germany, Italy, Switz- 
erland and the U.S., to India, Iran and 

CIS's chairman, Assistant Professor of 
Electrical Engineering Hossein Hakim- 
mashhadi, a native Iranian, says the cen- 
ter was created to encourage cooperation 
among faculty members interested in ad- 
vising Interactive Qualifying Projects 
(IQPs) focusing on cross-cultural 

The group is busy today identifying 
the areas of study to which WPI can 
make material contributions, whether 
they involve examining which technolo- 
gies are appropriate for cultures with 
varying degrees of economic develop- 
ment or developing effective models 
of transferring technology between 

CIS may be in its infancy, but inter- 
national studies at WPI are as old as the 
Plan itself. The college has housed a 
project center in Washington, D.C., 
since 1974 and has conducted interna- 
tional exchange programs with several 
European technological institutes for 
nearly as long. 

But now CIS is integrating WPI's 
cross-cultural focus and organizing in- 
ternational teams of students to tackle 
projects with global dimensions. For ex- 
ample, a team made up of U.S. and Af- 
rican students is applying solar technol- 
ogies for villagers in Botswana. Closer 
to home, a project team of American 
and Malaysian students is bringing solar 
energy to the Penobscot Nation in north- 
ern Maine. And this fall, a number of 
IQPs will begin in Venice, Italy, ad- 
dressing challenges like tidal monitoring 
and environmental quality. 

Meanwhile, London is experiencing 
what might be called the WPI invasion 
of Britain. Growing out of the unbridled 
success of the two-year-old London Pro- 
ject Center, four teams of students spent 
the past summer in London working with 
public or private agencies to complete 
their IQPs. 

One group worked at Lloyds of Lon- 
don assessing how computers are affect- 
ing the ability of the 200-year-old finan- 
cial consortium to underwrite the world's 
riskiest ventures. Other teams, respond- 
ing to Britain's concern over its ability 
to attract and keep students interested in 
electrical engineering, developed book- 
lets for British children to promote the 
attractiveness of the field as a future 

Humanities Professor Lance Schach- 
terle, director of the Division of Inter- 
disciplinary Affairs at WPI and London 
Project Center codirector, says sponsor- 
ing agencies and other London organi- 
zations are so eager to have access to 
WPI students that this summer's British 
projects became necessary. Such interest 
may one day create the need for addi- 
tional regular summer sessions at the 
center, he adds. 

The London experience, says Schach- 
terle, would not be nearly so successful 
if it weren't for WPI's professional con- 
tacts in the city. In almost every case, 
those contacts have come through Pro- 
fessor Maria Watkins, London codirec- 
tor of the center. A lifelong Londoner, 

Watkins was the first woman to teach 
electrical engineering at the British uni- 
versity level and is today professor 
emeritus at The City University of Lon- 
don. In August, Watkins found herself 
boarding a chartered motor coach in Ox- 
ford to join 30 current and former WPI 
students for a three-week tour of Eng- 
land and Scotland. These were no mere 
tourists, though, but rather a troupe of 
WPI actors and producers whose ulti- 
mate destination was the fabled Edin- 
burgh Festival, one of the world's most 
respected— and unpredictable— gather- 
ings of theater, music, dance, art, sculp- 
ture and crafts. 

Now in its 41st year, the Festival plays 
host to some 450 theater companies from 
around the world— everything from 
Shakespeare to vaudeville — for three 
weeks each August. 

At several venues in the city itself, 
and for two weeks prior to their arrival 
in Edinburgh, Susan Vick, associate 
professor of drama at WPI, and her stu- 
dents performed more than a dozen of 
their own works, adapted from New 
Voices, WPI's annual festival of new 
theatrical works created and acted en- 
tirely by WPI students. 

They performed, for example, in Lon- 
don, at places like Covent Gardens, 
where many famous actors have gotten 
their starts; and in Oxford, where they 
were housed at 16th-century Lincoln 
College. Along the way, the troupe spent 
a day in Stratford-on-Avon, visiting 
Shakespeare's home and sharing one of 
the world's foremost centers for art with 
thousands of other theater lovers. 

And in Edinburgh, WPI joined hun- 
dreds of other performing groups in the 
Festival "Cavalcade," a parade of floats 
on which light, brief performances de- 
lighted thousands of spectators. 

"I can't tell you how exciting this ex- 
perience was for our students," Vick ex- 
claimed upon her return, "—and for 

No doubt about it: WPI is truly mak- 
ing its presence felt "over there." 



Enthusiasm Percolates through 
New Inorganic Membrane 

Generally, before the product of a 
chemical or biochemical reac- 
tion can be used, it must be re- 
moved from the chemical soup in which 
it was formed and then concentrated. For 
this reason, separation and purification 
are two of the most fundamental proc- 
esses in chemical engineering and bio- 

For many years, one of the basic tech- 
nologies of separation and purification 
has been the membrane, a thin layer of 
organic or inorganic material with pores 
or channels that allow materials of cer- 
tain sizes or chemical composition to 
pass through, while leaving everything 
else behind. Because they are better un- 
derstood, membranes made from biolog- 
ical materials, particularly polymers, are 
now used in many industrial applica- 
tions. But interest in inorganic mem- 
branes has run high in recent years, ac- 
cording to Yi Hua Ma, head of WPI's 
Department of Chemical Engineering. 

Among the qualities attracting scien- 
tists and engineers to membranes made 
from inorganic compounds is their 
greater resistance to heat and chemical 
reactions. They have more uniform pores 
than their organic cousins and are less 
likely to become clogged. 

These properties make inorganic 
membranes ideally suited for applica- 
tions ranging from cheese making to wa- 
ter purification to waste treatment. They 
are even used to produce nonalcoholic 
wines by separating out the alcohol as 
the wine passes through. 

But, Ma notes, despite their useful- 
ness, knowledge about the properties of 
these membranes is "in an embryonic 
stage." Scientists know too little, he 
says, about how they work and how to 
engineer them to perform specific jobs. 
To address these and other questions, 
WPI recently launched a new Center for 
Inorganic Membrane Studies, the first 

research center at a U.S. university de- 
voted exclusively to inorganic 

The center, which currently has more 
than $130,000 in annual corporate sup- 
port, consists of Ma, William Clark, 
David DiBiasio, Anthony Dixon and 
William Moser from WPI's Chemical 
Engineering Department, Ronald Bied- 
erman and Richard Sisson Jr. from the 
college's Materials Science program, 
and Paul Inglefield and Alan Jones from 
the Chemistry Department of Clark 

This image of the fluid flow through 
the membranes of a biological reac- 
tor was made by scientists at WPI 
with magnetic resonance imaging. 

The center grows out of existing re- 
search strengths at WPI, notes Ma, who 
serves as its director. In particular, WPI, 
through the efforts of several Chemical 
Engineering faculty members, has de- 
veloped an international reputation for 
its work on zeolites, inorganic mem- 
branes made from silicon and aluminum 
that have important uses, particularly in 
the petrochemical industry. 

Researchers at the center will focus 
their attention on six key areas of study. 
These include a look at how inorganic 
membranes form. Many commercial 
membranes consist of layers, including 
a support material and a thinner working 
membrane. The WPI researchers want 

to know how these layers bond together. 

It is possible to deposit active catalysts 
on the surface of some inorganic mem- 
branes, allowing the membrane to both 
instigate a chemical reaction and sepa- 
rate out its products. The center's fac- 
ulty want to know more about how cat- 
alysts work when attached to a 
membrane and how changes in the prop- 
erties of the membrane affect the cata- 
lysts' performance. 

One of the problems associated with 
all membranes is their tendency to clog 
or foul. Fouling can be caused by fil- 
tered material backing up in the pores or 
from the membrane itself crumbling and 
blocking the passage of fluid. Work is 
being done to pinpoint the causes of 
fouling and to model the flow of mate- 
rial through a membrane. Such a model 
will help researchers create the best 
membrane for each specific application. 

Detailed studies of fluid flow through 
a membrane have proven difficult. One 
novel method for overcoming these 
problems is now under study at WPI. 
The technique tunes a magnetic reso- 
nance imaging (MRI) scanner to pro- 
duce an image that shows, by the rela- 
tive lightness or darkness of dots on a 
video screen, how fast fluid is moving 
at various points in a membrane. The 
technique should have widespread appli- 
cations in the study of inorganic and or- 
ganic membranes. 

The use of inorganic membranes in 
biotechnology is another important area 
the center will address. One focus will 
be techniques aimed at binding proteins 
to the surfaces of inorganic membranes 
to produce biologically active systems. 

The center, which counts Alcoa and 
Texaco among its members, wants to in- 
crease its base of corporate support. 

"So far, our discussions with several 
companies have produced very positive 
results," Ma said. "With the addition of 
new members, and with government 
funding, we expect the center to become 
self-sufficient in about five years." 

— Michael Dorsey 

SUMMER 1988 


Taking Steps Toward a Safe Baby 

Major Qualifying Project by Scott D. 
Gallett '88 and Nicholas M. Werthes- 
sen '88 

Advisor: Mohammad N. Noori, assistant 
professor of mechanical engineering. 

Interactive Qualifying Project by Her- 
man Purut '88, Peter S. Revelas '87, 
Michael J. Sasloff '88 and Vincent P. 
Solferino '88. 

Advisor: Roger Y. Lui, assistant profes- 
sor of mathematical sciences. 

Baby walkers are hurting babies. Nearly 
24,000 infants were injured by walkers 
during 1980 alone, according to the 
Consumer Products Safety Commission. 
In fact, walker accidents— toppling over, 
falling down stairs and objects being 
pulled down on the walkers— each year 
account for nearly 40 percent of all in- 
juries caused by the class of children's 
products that also includes strollers, high 
chairs and car seats. 

In the last decade, Dr. Louis Fazen, 
director of the Pediatric Emergency 
Room Service at St. Vincent Hospital in 
Worcester, MA, has conducted his own 
studies of baby walker injuries. They 
have led him to believe that the only 
solution is a new approach to walker 
design. For ideas, Fazen came to WPI. 

Responding to Fazen 's challenge, two 
teams of WPI undergraduates studied the 
problem and came up with very different 

Purut, Revelas, Sasloff and Solferino 
decided to revise the traditional baby 
walker design, retaining the "X" frame 
common to many units, but equipping 
the walker with features designed to pre- 
vent accidents and injuries. 

A key feature in their design is an 
ultrasonic range detector that senses 
when the walker is approaching a drop 
in level— the top of the stairs, for exam- 
ple — and locks the wheels while alerting 
nearby adults with an alarm. 

Nicholas Werthessen and Scott Gal- 
lett with plans for their baby walker. 

Other improvements include velocity- 
limiting wheel locks that control the 
walker's speed, a soft cloth seat that 
supports the child like a parachute har- 
ness and a redesigned folding mecha- 
nism that eliminates accidental 

Gallett and Werthessen focused their 
attention not just on preventing acci- 
dents but protecting babies in the event 
of a spill. 

By modifying a popular child's toy 
made of tough plastic tubing and joints, 
they created a "cage" 16.5 inches square 
and 35 inches high. Connecting bars 
were added for rigidity. 

Inside the cage is a harness suspended 
from all eight corners of the frame, into 
which the child is strapped and zipped. 
The harness supports the child's weight 
and absorbs shocks during a fall. The 
walker is also fitted with large wheels 
that easily roll over obstacles, minimiz- 
ing tipping. 

The students demonstrated the sturdi- 
ness of the design by placing a 25 -pound 
weight in the harness and sending the 
unit rolling unharmed down a flight of 
slate stairs in WPI's Alumni 

The unit was also field tested by a 
nurse at St. Vincent Hospital who found 
the harness, once adjusted, easy to use, 
and she reported that her child had no 
difficulty in moving the walker around. 

Dr. Fazen says the WPI student ef- 
forts go a long way toward ending an 
important hazard. "If we can go to the 
moon, certainly we should be able to 
create a safe buggy for our kids," he 

A Look at Pioneer Photographers 

A Humanities Sufficiency by Shawn 
D. Harrison '89 

Advisor: Malcolm E. Parkinson, associ- 
ate professor of history. 

Nineteenth-century photographers like 
Joseph Nicephore Niepce, who pro- 
duced the world's first photograph; 
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, inven- 
tor of the first widely used method of 
photographically preserving images; and 
William Henry Fox Talbot, who in- 
vented the first practical positive/nega- 
tive process, laid the groundwork for the 
craft of modern photography. 

For his project, Harrison delved into 
the history of photography and searched 
through treatises on inventors and inven- 
tions, looking for the influences that 
motivated each man. 

He was able to show how each of the 
photographers was influenced, not only 
by his "craft" and by private motives, 
but by four forces of 19th-century cul- 
ture: the movement toward naturalism 
the desire for linear perspective, the ris- 
ing interest in tinkering and the fascina- 
tion with illusion. 

Each factor, albeit to varying degrees, 
Harrison says, was significant in "mold- 
ing and kneading" the lives of the inven- 
tors. By analyzing these forces, "we 
have begun to understand the motiva- 
tional processes behind the pioneers of 
photography, whose efforts had such far- 
reaching effects," he notes. 

Harrison's project was one of three 
winners of the 1988 Class of 1879 
Awards for outstanding Humanities 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser, 
WPI Student News Writer 





The Changes Are Dramatic, 

and Much More 

than Skin Deep, 

in New England's 

Second City 

Photos by Robert S. Arnold 


8 SUMMER 1988 

■ .*'^v. ■ 





Once dismissed as an aging mill 
town, Worcester is on its way to be- 
coming a beautiful modern city. 


Much has changed in 
New England's sec- 
ond-largest city 
since the days when Ray- 
mond J. Perreault '38 and his 
classmates skied on Newton 
Hill and commandeered Insti- 
tute Road for sliding during 
their winters at WPI. 
Since Perreault, a Worces- 

ter native, left the city to 
found Falls Machine Screw 
Co. in Chicopee, MA, 
Worcester has lived through 
two major changes in city 
government, suburbaniza- 
tion, major highway con- 
struction, downtown urban 
renewal and the emergence of 
the city as a cultural center 

for central Massachusetts that 
rivals even Boston in the rock 
'n' roll scene. 

City Manager Francis J. 
McGrath, who served longer 
than any city manager in the 
history of the United States, 
is no longer in office, and lo- 
cal institutions like the 
Worcester Telegram & Ga- 

10 SUMMER 1988 

zette have changed hands. 
Sometimes called "the gray 
lady on Franklin Street," the 
T & G was sold to the Chron- 
icle Publishing Co. of San 
Francisco in the fall of 1986. 
If not as strong as nearby 
Boston, Providence and Hart- 
ford in the public relations 
and communications fields — 

Worcester does not have a 
full-time television station of- 
fering local news and pro- 
gramming — the city is strong 
today in legal services, med- 
icine and biomedical research 
(see the Spring 1988 Journal 
for more on Worcester's Bio- 
technology Research Park). 
Alumni such as Donald G. 

Craig '57 and Edward L. 
Griffith Jr. '69 like what they 
see and hear of the new 

Craig says he and his class- 
mates rarely explored the city 
beyond the limits of Lincoln 
Square, the site of a number 
of bars, including the popular 
Valhalla. He remembers the 
city as "a kind of run-down, 
shop-oriented, low-class type 
of place." 

Like Craig, Griffith, who 
grew up in the neighboring 
town of Leicester, says his 
prejudice against the city kept 
him from seeing much of 
Worcester beyond Lincoln 
Square and Highland Street, 
the center of Worcester's 
1960s counterculture. The 
rest of Worcester seemed 
"too limited" to bother with. 

Both Craig, now a DC-10 
captain for American Air- 
lines, based in Connecticut, 
and Griffith, a vice president 
for Emcon Associates, a Cu- 
pertino, CA, waste manage- 
ment consulting firm, say 
they would have much pre- 
ferred today's Worcester. 

Returning over the years for 
alumni events, Craig has been 
pleased with the improve- 
ments in the appearance of 
both Worcester and the WPI 

"I've watched Worcester 
grow into a beautiful city," he 
says. "They've redone down- 
town and I can't believe how 
attractive the WPI campus is 
compared to when we were 
pounding away on our slide 
rules. As far as I'm con- 
cerned, there's hardly any re- 
semblance to when I was first 

Even their old hangouts 
have been transformed. To- 
day, the bars are gone from 
Lincoln Square, replaced by 
a central police headquarters 
and the Marriott Hotel. And 
the head shops of Highland 
Street have given way to fash- 
ionable boutiques and 

The changes that have 
transformed Worcester are not 

just skin deep, though. Talk 
to government leaders and lo- 
cal citizens and you'll hear a 
new sense of pride in their 
city — in the way it's grown, 
and also in the way it has 
stayed the same. They will 
tell you that Worcester is a 
special place to live. Less ex- 
pensive than Boston — the me- 
dian price for a home here is 
$60,000 less than in the state 
capital — Worcester offers an 
easygoing lifestyle and com- 
munity spirit often missing in 
bigger cities. 

The "new" Worcester is 
the product of many factors. 
Part of the formula is the 
spirit and dedication of long- 
time city residents. Another 
is the fresh perspective and 
drive of a growing influx of 
young professionals. 

The last two decades have 
seen a shift in Worcester's 
economy, from one based 
largely on industry to one 
driven by services, such as 
health care, biomedical re- 
search and education. Fuel- 
ing this change have been the 
location of high-technology 
firms in Worcester suburbs 
and sky-high real estate prices 
in the metropolitan Boston 
area, which have helped 
attract professionals to 

There is evidence the new- 
comers have sweetened the 
Worcester economy. Since 
1979, the median income in 
Worcester has risen 80 per- 
cent, to $32,600. The num- 
ber of condominium units in 
the city climbed from 400 to 
nearly 2,000 during the last 
five years. New home starts, 
which averaged 30 to 40 per 
year before 1983, are now at 
about 300 per year. 

The city has also seen a 
large influx of new residents 
of Southeast Asian and His- 
panic descent in the last dec- 
ade. This influx has been felt 
in the school system, where a 
battle over bilingualism 
rocked school committee 
meetings in the 1970s. 

As the city's demographics 





have shifted, a new, populist 
spirit has made itself felt in 
the city's government. The 
change began in the fall of 
1985 with the retirement of 
Francis McGrath who, to 
many Worcester residents, 
was synonymous with city 
hall and the city manager 
form of government. 

While McGrath was known 
for his ability to "pull rabbits 
out of the hat" in times of 
crisis, over the years Worces- 
ter citizens became increas- 
ingly restive with the Mc- 
Grath administration and its 
ruling style. 

Local observers of the po- 
litical scene, such as David 
Rushford, first assistant city 
clerk, generally agree that the 
city charter adopted in the 
1940s lent a feeling of inflex- 
ibility to the city government, 
as it had no provision for re- 
view — or removal by elec- 
tion—of the city manager. 

One city councillor in par- 
ticular reflected the feelings 
of many Worcester voters. 
Jordan Levy, a Jewish busi- 
nessman who grew up in a 
poor section of Worcester's 
East Side, began in the early 
1970s to push for change. 
With former City Councillor 
Paul Leahy, he spearheaded a 
drive for reform, which re- 
sulted in a new city charter's 
being passed by voters in the 
fall of 1985. 

The provisions of the new 
charter include ward repre- 
sentation on the council, re- 
view of the city manager and 
the direct election of mayors. 
Last fall Levy, top vote getter 
in the last six municipal elec- 
tions, became the city's first 
directly elected mayor in al- 
most 40 years. 

Levy is representative of 
what many see as a new breed 
of leader who has emerged in 
Worcester in the last decade. 
The latest crop of local mov- 
ers and shakers is a diverse 
lot, represented by both sexes 
and a variety of religious, 
ethnic and racial back- 

1 Klltf 


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1 I 

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i ii nil " i 

They range professionally 
from medicine to law, from 
real estate development to in- 
surance and the social service 
fields. What they share is an 
intense interest in Worcester 
and the community. Their 
goals include encouraging 
growth and development, 
while maintaining Worces- 
ter's small city ambience and 
lifestyle; seeing more women 
and minorities in power posi- 
tions; balancing building with 
conservation of open space; 
strong regional planning; and 
increased corporate support 
for the arts. 

While the impact of 
Worcester's shifting demo- 
graphics and governing style 
will likely be felt far into the 
next century, Worcester has 
already changed in many re- 
markable ways. 

City residents such as Don- 
ald Melville, former head of 
Norton Company and an avid 
supporter of the arts, say 
Worcester has truly become a 
cultural rival to Boston. 

The most recent addition to 
the cultural horizon, and 
some would say one of the 
most significant elements in 

While working to create a 
modern skyline, Worcester 
officials and developers 
have also preserved the 
gems of the city's past, like 
the 19th-century office 
tower above. Among Wor- 
cester's most prized pieces 
of history is Mechanics 
Hall (I), considered one of 
the finest concert halls in 
the country. 


Worcester's renaissance, is 
the Centrum, a multipurpose 
arena that opened in 1982. 
Each year the Centrum hosts 
dozens of large-scale indoor 
events, including rock con- 
certs, ice shows, the circus 
and an annual flower show. It 
was recentiy the kickoff site 
for Bruce Springsteen's na- 
tional tour. The drawing 
power of the Centrum has 
helped the downtown's col- 
lection of restaurants and 
shops grow and thrive. 

Besides the Centrum, the 
Worcester County Music As- 
sociation brings a full sched- 
ule of classical music to the 
Worcester Auditorium and an 
International Artists Series 
attracts classical music stars 
to Mechanics Hall. 

New England, mounts sev- 
eral highly praised exhibits 
each year, many from its own 
collection, considered one of 
the best small collections in 
the country. The Higgins Ar- 
mory Museum, which houses 
one of the largest assem- 
blages of arms and armor in 
the world, recently under- 
went a major renovation. And 
the Worcester Science Center 
was recently renamed the 
New England Science Center 
to reflect its growing influ- 
ence in the region. 

Worcester's colleges all of- 
fer cultural events open to the 
public, a switch that began 
in the early 1970s with the 
creation of the Worcester 
Consortium for Higher Edu- 
cation (see the Winter 1988 

"Less expensive than 

Boston, Worcester offers an 

easygoing lifestyle and 

community spirit often 

missing in bigger cities." 

New owners and a major 
renovation should help 
Worcester Center (r), also 
called the Galleria, become 
the flagship of the city's re- 
tail base. 

The hall, built in 1857 by 
the Worcester County Me- 
chanics Association, once at- 
tracted the giants of 19th-cen- 
tury music, literature and 
politics to Worcester. By the 
latter half of this century, 
though, it had become a run- 
down relic, reduced to host- 
ing wrestling matches and 
roller derby meets. 

With the support of gov- 
ernment, business, private 
citizens and Worcester 
schoolchildren (who gathered 
$9,000 in pennies to support 
the renovation), the hall was 
returned to its former glory 
by the late 1970s. Today, it is 
widely regarded as one of the 
finest concert halls in the 

The Worcester Art Mu- 
seum, the second largest in 


Along with Worcester's 
burgeoning sophistication has 
come renewed interest in re- 
storing much of its excep- 
tional architecture. Buildings 
that once served as ware- 
houses or factories are now 
home to upscale shops and 
restaurants. An example is 
One Exchange Place — a ren- 
ovated police and fire station 
whose tenants now include 
restaurants such as Legal Sea 
Foods. In addition, older of- 
fice buildings are being 
spruced up and restored to 
their former elegance. 

While attention is being 
paid to the old Worcester, 
others are looking ahead to a 
new city skyline. Worcester's 
still relatively low real estate 
prices have attracted outside 

developers interested in in- 
vesting in and developing lo- 
cal property. At least three 
major Boston real estate de- 
velopment or architectural 
firms are currently working 
on multimillion dollar pro- 
jects in Worcester's down- 

Among the most ambitious 
is City Plaza, a $94-million 
complex that will include a 
26 -story office tower and a 
15 -story condominium tower 
connected by a low-rise com- 
mercial area and a 600-space 
parking garage. The develop- 
ment, which will rise on va- 
cant land near the Centrum, 
has been billed as a "signa- 
ture" building for the new 

Plans for another major de- 
velopment project, a hoped- 
for renovation of the former 
Union Station into a conven- 
tion center, are moving along. 
State funding for the project 
is expected to be approved 

Still, while several projects 
now crowd the drawing 
boards, local political and 
business leaders hope to see 
still more downtown devel- 
opment. Worcester has main- 
tained its status as the second- 
largest city in New England, 
these leaders say, because it 
exceeds Hartford and Provi- 
dence in area, not because it 
matches those cities de- 

City Manager William J. 
Mulford, formerly head of the 
Worcester Office of Planning 
and Community Develop- 
ment, agrees. He hopes the 
city will eventually adopt an 
in-the-works master plan to 
address the need for organ- 
ized development. 

One factor that could be a 
key to further development, 
say business leaders such as 
Paul S. Morgan, chairman of 
Morgan Construction Com- 
pany and a member of WPI's 
Board of Trustees, is the ex- 
pansion of Worcester's mu- 
nicipal airport. While its 
services seem limited when 

14 SUMMER 1988 

i I 

— _ - V n - iJ fa rfiliJBu- 

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il I l# •,-.,;.._ J! I I 

Worcester officials hope to 
see the city continue to de- 
velop, while maintaining 
the qualities that make it 
an attractive place in 
which to live and work. 

compared to full-service 
fields such as Boston's Logan 
International Airport or Hart- 
ford's Bradley International 
Airport, Worcester's facility 
has made great strides in re- 
cent years. 

Today, three major airlines, 
Piedmont, Continental and 
Northwest, serve the city, 
flying passengers to hubs in 
Baltimore, Newark and De- 
troit. Eastern Express offers 
commuter service to various 
destinations in New England. 
Passenger boardings doubled 
during 1987 and are expected 
to hit about 130,000 in 1988. 
The City Council recently 
approved a multimillion dol- 
lar package recommended by 
the Worcester Airport Com- 
mission that is aimed at mod- 
ernizing the airport, includ- 
ing the construction of a new 
terminal building. 

While development has 

been on the rise, Worcester, 
like other older cities across 
America, has at times been in 
danger of losing its down- 
town retail base to outlying 
suburban shopping malls. 
Worcester Center— known as 
the Galleria— was designed to 
address this issue. 

The center opened in 1972 
to great acclaim, but critics 
and supporters alike now 
agree it has not fully lived up 
to its commercial promise. 
Whether it is the charge for 
parking in the center's garage 
or an imperfect blend of 
stores, Worcester Center has 
been losing customers to a 
new group of other shopping 
malls built in the 1980s. 

New England Development 
and S.R. Weiner Associates, 
whose combined credits in- 
clude development of such 
successful retail centers as the 
Arsenal Mall in Watertown, 

MA, The Mall of New 
Hampshire in Manchester and 
the Pheasant Lane Mall in 
Nashua, NH, expect to as- 
sume ownership of the 17- 
year-old center by the end of 
the year. They plan a major 
renovation including, quite 
likely, more anchor stores and 
more retail space. 

Where do these changes 
leave Worcester? 

Alexander Drapos is a 
Worcester lawyer who has 
traveled around the country 
with the Dukakis presidential 
campaign. Returning from 
campaign trips, Drapos sees 
a city with a strong economy 
that's becoming more sophis- 
ticated— "more of a gray col- 
lar town, a mix of blue and 
white collar." 

Many business leaders 
agree with that perception. 
They see in the new Worces- 
ter much to praise and much 
to look forward to. Still, 
some, like Charles Norton, a 
principal of St. James Prop- 
erties, urge the city's people 
to keep the wheels of change 

Norton, whose firm has 
built such major Worcester 
development projects as 
Smokestack Place, a factory 
block on Cambridge Street 
which St. James converted 
into a successful office build- 
ing, characterizes Worcester 
as "a city that could be better 
to itself." 

"Worcester is at the hub of 
New England," he notes. "It 
has the opportunity, the fi- 
nancial strength, the lifestyle 
and the people to be better 
than it is today. To have more 
activity, to be a place where 
people want to come to and 
be proud of." 

Worcester native Amy Zuck- 
erman is a former reporter 
for Worcester's Evening Ga- 
zette. She has written exten- 
sively about the new Worces- 
ter for Worcester-area 
business publications and 
The Boston Globe Sunday 

16 SUMMER 1988 


in the body shop 

By Marshall Ledger 

Devices implanted in humans are getting smaller and smarter. The 

best of them might help the paralyzed to walk or the deaf to hear. 

But we're a long way off from a functioning Mr. (or Ms.) Chips. 

Her name is Ophelia, and she is 
a plastic model of the human 
skeleton, three-fourths life- 
size. She is fleshed out with 
artificial medical parts, among them 
glass eyeballs, coated titanium teeth, a 
Jarvik artificial heart, a metal elbow, a 
plastic wrist, silicone finger and toe 
joints, bone pins, a polyurethane blad- 
der, an electric device that stimulates 
bone growth, and a sensor that detects 
fluid pressure in the brain. 

Ophelia is a fixture in an introductory 
course on biomaterials at Johns Hopkins 
University. Emanuel Horowitz, profes- 
sor of materials science and engineer- 
ing, co-teaches the course along with 
Edward Mueller of the federal Food and 
Drug Administration. They ask their 
students to obtain commercially availa- 
ble replacements for human parts, which 
the students then place on or in her. 

Even as an educational tool, Ophelia 
only hints at the state of the art of arti- 
ficial devices. Most of her prostheses 
come, so to speak, from the body shop. 
They are mechanical substitutes, like 
new axles or carburetors; or they are 
nonworking stand-ins. The artificial 
bladder, attached to the skeleton just as 
the spring semester ended, is a different 

order of device. Along with the artificial 
heart and the sensor, it is implanted to 
help restore a deteriorating or lost bodily 
function. Simulating the natural organ or 
tissue, such parts react to the body's 
electrical, chemical, or physiological 
signals, then carry out or take control of 
necessary bodily processes. 

Such devices represent the relentless 
advance of biomedical apparatuses to 
monitor conditions in the body, to diag- 
nose problems, and, in some cases, ac- 
tually to treat them. The substitute or- 
gans relieve both patient and physician 
from the anxiety of waiting for a trans- 
plant from human donors. The sensors, 
the latest frontier, bring about new stan- 
dards of accuracy to refine therapy. 

These technologies come from a world 
that challenges scientists and engineers 
to duplicate not merely the anatomy of 
the body but also to mimic its natural 
functions, playing off the body's chem- 
istry and overcoming wear and tear. 

It is a world in which bioscientists and 
bioengineers realize how very little they 
know about how the body works, much 
less how to imitate it, suggests Robert 
Peura, director of the biomedical engi- 
neering program at Worcester Polytech- 
nic Institute (WPI). Howard Chizeck 

echoes that sentiment. The associate 
professor of systems engineering and 
biomedical engineering at Case Western 
Reserve University (CWRU) helps 
develop electronic devices for paraplegic 
people. He chafes at the hardware limi- 
tations of today's devices, yet finds 
"even more constraining" the lack of 
deep knowledge about basic body 

And it is a world of thinking small in 
order to think big. Microminiaturization 
has made possible many of these bio- 
medical electronic marvels. Size has al- 
ready advanced beyond ordinary com- 
prehension: Scientists expect to develop 
electronic switches no larger than a mol- 
ecule. A University of California at Ber- 
keley research lab has produced a micro- 
phone so small a postage stamp could 
hold 50 of them; it bears great potential 
for use in hearing aids. In the not-too- 
distant future, Ophelia may be decked 
out in parts hardly visible: for example, 
microsensors to let doctors "see" the 
inside of a wound or even repair artery 
walls, and micromachines to be de- 
ployed to make repairs on a silicon chip. 
Radios with maybe five transistors not 
long ago were the size of a pack or two 
of cigarettes. "Now we can put 10,000 

AUGUST 1988 I 

Hydrocephalus ifovri 

Propl^t facial implant 

Dental CimtW) 'impbhtS 
Proplwi df\\(\ implant 


Humerus mttal bore, ffote. 

Artificial Ueart 
05nt ^roiuih slimuldLor 

forearm bone, p/ate. 

Total hip implant 

• metal a//oy 
' pDlijdhykttL 

• dcrj/lic to, Cement 

Silicone, hnfr joint, 

Femoral intramedullary rod 
4u/itr£tiG total knee, 
and /ate.! la 

What makes 
Ophelia tick? 

Attached to this classroom plastic 
skeleton are artificial human parts 
readily available, made from glass, 
metal, or synthetics. Most of Ophe- 
lia's parts are not electronic. In the 
future, students gathering human ii 
plants for study might find electronic 
itches no larger than a molecule. 

AriiUual tilt 

Silicone nose, implant 

Synthetic bone, -for 

Mai snouldar 
Silicone, breast implant 

P^roli/fe carbon heart valve, 

yntheKc dtouJ 

-UtctriQl tilmbUf 
he spinal cord. 

faiiy Catheter 

\iJrisl implant 

Implantable tfrinary 

•eel bore ^aplfc 

Silicone, let pint 


transistors with 30,000 interconnecting 
wires on a quarter-inch square that is 
20/l,000ths of an inch thick," says Rob- 
ert Fischell, chief of technology transfer 
at Hopkins's Applied Physics Labora- 
tory (APL). 

That happens to be the size and elec- 
tronic complexity of the computer chip 
inside a programmable implantable 
medication system (PIMS), an insulin 
pump and valve device about the size of 
a hockey puck. Adapted from technol- 
ogy developed for the Viking Mars 
Lander, FischelFs project is, in effect, 
an artificial insulin pancreas. It's de- 
signed to prevent or lessen the compli- 
cations of diabetes, among them blind- 
ness, loss of limbs, and impotence. 

The pump dispenses insulin to the pa- 
tient on need — and it determines the 
need. After a physician sets the prescrip- 
tion via the pump's computer, which can 
control the flow of insulin for up to four 
months, it "remembers" how much in- 
sulin has been delivered, hour by hour. 
Computer algorithms ensure that it does 
not exceed the limit. "That's the type of 
'thinking' it can do," notes Fischell. 

The pump's machinery is called an 
open-loop device because it is pro- 
grammed through a keyboard; a physi- 
cian at a console monitors the reaction 
of the implant, following progress and 
even changing the dosage. The patient, 
using a hand-held device, before eating 
can also call up insulin in pre-pro- 
grammed levels taking into account that 
he or she is about to munch on, for 
example, "a small, sweet snack." 

Currently, diabetes patients must re- 
ceive one to four shots of insulin a day. 
The pump eliminates the daily need for 
injections; patients check in at a hospital 
a few times a year to have the pump's 
reservoir refilled. Placed in the abdo- 
men, the pump releases insulin near the 
point where the pancreas would. As Fis- 
chell puts it, "We're trying, as closely 
as possible, to mimic what nature did." 

Of the nation's 1.5 million insulin 
users, however, only 16 have the im- 
plant, since development has progressed 
only to clinical trials. The patient using 
it the longest has had it for a year and a 

Marshall Ledger is editor of Penn Med- 
icine at the University of Pennsylvania 
Medical Center. Except for a plastic 
patch covering a hernia, he has, so far, 
not required implants to keep him 

In addition to regulating insulin more 
dependably, for the thousands of diabet- 
ics who now carry external pumps, the 
device will make social life more pleas- 
ant. Says Fischell, "One lady said, 'Did 
you ever try to wear it on an evening 
gown?' And teenagers don't like it be- 
cause they look different. But the im- 
plant is cosmetically unnoticeable, even 
if you're in a swimming suit." 

A trained physicist whose expertise is 
in building high-quality miniaturized 
circuits, Fischell is in APL's space de- 
partment, where the goal of "technol- 
ogy transfer" means applying the ele- 
gant science learned in satellites to 
medicine, especially implants. Other 

Some devices have such immediate 
appeal that the public forgets the 
long lag between laboratory ex- 
perimentation and availability. 
CWRU's Howard Chizeck conducts re- 
search on neural prostheses, devices that 
replace functions ordinarily carried out 
by the nervous system. He and his as- 
sociates electrically stimulate muscles of 
patients who are paralyzed. Through 
their technique, called functional neuro- 
muscular stimulation, they look for ways 
to enable patients to regain movement in 
their limbs and to control and coordinate 
those movements. The work is easy to 
relate to: If it succeeds, some people 
made paraplegic by spinal cord injuries 

Using electodes to stimu- 
late muscles, Howard 
Chizeck at CWRU ex- 
plores how to restore 
normal movement in par- 
alyzed patients. As a pa- 
tient takes a step, the 
computer coordinates the 

projects of the lab include a recharge- 
able heart pacemaker, a human-tissue 
stimulator, an implantable heart defibril- 
lator, and, for incontinence, an artificial 
urinary sphincter. 

Fischell enjoys telling how the insulin 
pump originated. In 1976, while on va- 
cation, he was studying the books on 
diabetes and insulin that he had brought 
along. He sketched a device, but once 
back home, filed away his papers. Then, 
two and a half years later, a medical 
scientist asked him about the feasibility 
of an insulin pump. Fischell dug up the 
drawings and said, "You mean a pump 
like this?" 

He believes an implantable pump 
could be studied for application in neu- 
rological problems such as Parkinson's 
disease or spasticity. More immediately, 
the pump might be adapted to administer 
chemotherapy to a cancerous bladder. 

(and there are an estimated 20 new pa- 
tients nationwide each day) may regain 
some ability to walk. 

One of Chizeck's colleagues, P. 
Hunter Peckham, associate professor of 
biomedical engineering, has used elec- 
trical excitation to restore a few hand 
and forearm functions to paralyzed peo- 
ple. Some patients can now feed them- 
selves and do other personal tasks. One 
patient has received an implanted unit 
driven by radio waves from the outside, 
but the work is in an early stage of eval- 
uation at collaborating institutions. 

The limbs of Peckham 's and Chi- 
zeck's patients are stimulated by elec- 
trodes set near or into appropriate 
nerves. But even determining how best 
to do that is a challenge. Chizeck notes 
that electrodes on the skin surface are 
the easiest to install but the least selec- 
tive in the muscles they activate. Insert- 


Plugging electronics into 
medicine are WPI's Rob- 
ert Peura (above) with an 
in vitro blood measure- 
ment system; Hopkins's 
Robert Fischell (far right) 
with an implantable 
pump; and CWRU's 
Yoram Rudy (right), who 
researches the heart's 
electrical activity. 



fill lYJjfifll ^M^HHHH 

ing electrodes through the skin is more 
difficult but enables better mobility in 
specific motions. And implants, though 
eventually probably the best choice, re- 
quire surgery. 

Yet such motion only approximates 
normal human muscles. Chizeck has 
stimulated only some 48 channels of 
muscle control. It's "a lot in terms of 
technology," he points out, "but crude 
compared to nature, compared to the 
original equipment," in which tens of 
thousands of channels are involved in 
moving a leg or an arm. 

Most neural prostheses require an ex- 
ternal computer to be programmed with 
the appropriate information. Chizeck's 
system uses sensors to feed back into the 
computer data on the movements pa- 
tients are making; for instance, one foot 
can detect the heel of the other foot 
touching the floor. But such a system 
must be exceptionally reliable; one 
wrong signal could make a patient trip. 
Some patients have been able to walk as 
far as several hundred meters, but the 
effort is so great that perhaps only the 
researchers could call it progress. 

There's still considerable work to 
be done in many areas of basic 
research. Stimulators applied di- 
rectly to the brain indicate the 
nature of the problem. In one project, 
appropriate areas of the brains of blind 
people are electrically excited so that the 
patients visualize white flashes. Could 
the electrodes be fired sequentially in a 
way that develops images in the mind? 

No one has yet advanced that far, but 
experiments of this type are planned for 
the near future. Miniaturized electrodes 
are now "pretty close to the smallest 
they can be," notes Terry Hambrecht. A 
1968 Hopkins medical graduate, he's in 
charge of the neural prosthesis program 
of the National Institutes of Health, 
where he studies the points of contact 
between the electrodes and the nervous 
system. He is experimenting with elec- 
trodes only five microns thick, ap- 
proaching the size of nerve cells (a hu- 
man hair might be 100 microns thick). 
The electrodes float with the brain by 
means of a flexible wire. (The brain 
doesn't exactly rattle around inside the 
cranium, Hambrecht points out, but its 
movements do affect the delicate 

Tiny electrodes have been used in 
cochlear implants to restore a degree of 
hearing to some deaf people. Deafness 

is sometimes caused by a malfunction- 
ing of the sensory hair cells of the inner 
ear. The implants pick up acoustic sig- 
nals and, substituting for the hairs, 
transmit the signals to the brain as elec- 
trical impulses, which the brain accepts 
as "sound." In Horowitz's introductory 
biomaterials course at Hopkins (where 
Ophelia hangs out), Hambrecht has 
shown a videotape of a patient, deaf 
from the age of 12, who was given a 
cochlear implant. An exceptional pa- 
tient, she can decipher enough words to 
answer the telephone. The device is still 
being refined, but already some 3,000 
patients are using it. (See box on page 

Few things are as dramatic as a new 
therapeutic device, but to physi- 
cians, an effective diagnostic tool 
can be just as welcome. Electron- 
ics are making possible less invasive 
techniques. Take, for example, the med- 
ical screening being studied by Edward 
Kresch, associate professor of electrical 
engineering at Villanova University. 
Kresch leads a team attempting to char- 
acterize injuries or diseases according 
to electrical signals sent out from the 
spinal cord or the brain. The group takes 
measurements at the Lafayette Hill Med- 
ical Center, not far from campus, where 
patients come with back problems 
and sports injuries, or for physical 

At the center, medical technicians give 
patients mild electric shocks on the arm 
or leg or elsewhere on the body (they 
feel no pain). In measuring the response 
on the skin, if the technicians find no 
response after a given point along the 
spinal column, they know the problem 
is at that spot. If surgery is required, the 
physician can pinpoint where to make 
the incision. The test is expensive and 
can run more than two hours. But com- 
pared with exploratory surgery, it's short 
and far less costly, Kresch notes. It's 
also less invasive than X-rays, whose 
ionizing radiation has a permanent and 
cumulative effect on DNA. 

A computer provides Kresch with a 
diagram of the signals, which have a 
"very distinctive shape" in normal sub- 
jects but vary with different injuries, 
diseases, and metabolic derangements. 
Right now, physicians have to look at 
the computer screen image and decide if 
the signal looks normal. Kresch wants to 
quantify the signals to make it easier for 
them to judge how far from normal the 

signal is and what— if any— therapy is 

Kresch 's team has measured dozens of 
normal subjects and hundreds of abnor- 
mal ones. They will continue to test 
groups of patients with the same disease 
or type of injury — for instance, some 
with abnormal curvature of the spine, 
others with muscular debilities or meta- 
bolic disorders. They expect to deter- 
mine the normal range of signals (or the 
characteristically abnormal one) for each 
classification of patient. Then they 
would like to try predicting the problems 

By measuring signals 
from the spinal cord or 
brain, Villanova's Edward 
Kresch attempts to char- 
acterize injuries and dis- 

:\--'V-.:. ::\ 

of randomly chosen patients by match- 
ing their signals to those of the groups. 
"It's a rather crude estimate to say you 
can quantify a complicated thing like this 
with a single number," Kresch observes, 
"but it's a start." 

Working in an entirely different field 
for similar diagnostic purposes, Yoram 
Rudy, associate professor of biomedical 
engineering and cardiology at CWRU, 
specializes in the electrical activity of 
the heart. Rudy seeks an understanding 
of cardiac electrical impulses, under both 
normal and abnormal conditions. His 

AUGUST 1988 V 

work could lead to an understanding of 
rhythm disorders, which are responsible 
for the majority of incidents of sudden 
death from heart problems. 

In an applied aspect of his research, 
he tries to develop noninvasive methods 
to measure electrical fields on the torso 
and to determine what is happening to 
the heart. The work is an extension of 
the familiar electrocardiogram, in which 
technicians sample the potential distri- 
bution at six or 12 selected points— "in- 
adequately" sample, says Rudy, because 
having so few measurements forces the 
cardiologist to resort to "guesswork" to 
understand the electrical state of the 

A surgeon usually determines the fo- 
cus of the arrhythmia during open-heart 
surgery by mapping the electrical activ- 
ity directly on the heart; to do so re- 
quires wrapping electrodes in a "sock" 
placed on the heart. This procedure pro- 
longs surgery and, ironically, can cause 
arrhythmias, says Rudy. 

He is trying to develop a more thor- 
ough and noninvasive mapping system, 
monitoring 240 points on the skin's sur- 

face. He would then produce a color map 
of the potential distribution of the elec- 
trical fields on the torso (color-coded for 
different voltages). The map would be 
displayed on a TV monitor every milli- 
second during the cardiac cycle. 

"That gives us more information, but 
it's not enough," he notes. He still has 
to interpret it, and that's a difficult 
mathematical problem, known as the in- 
verse problem (in math jargon, he notes, 
it's dubbed an "ill condition problem," 
i.e., an unstable one). He works with a 
bank of computers at CWRU as well as 
through a telephone modem to the Na- 
tional Science Foundation supercompu- 
ter in Pittsburgh. 

In the near future, he expects to test 
the mapping procedure on patients prior 
to surgery, then verify the findings dur- 
ing surgery— "with the hope that as we 
develop more and more trust in the re- 
sults, we will eventually dispose of the 
need to do any mapping during surgery." 
So far, the procedure can localize elec- 
trical events on the heart with an accu- 
racy of about one centimeter— accurate 
enough for surgery. 

Searching for noninvasive technology, 
researchers turn to many scientific spe- 
cialties. At WPI, engineers have per- 
fected a technique called pulse oximetry, 
which uses optics to detect the amount 
of oxygen in the blood (as blood picks 
up oxygen, it turns red). WPI's team 
places an electro-optical sensor on top 
of the skin of subjects, and directs light 
through the skin at two wavelengths. 
Some light is absorbed by the blood, 
some is scattered into the tissue, and 
some is scattered back and registered by 
a detector. The amount of light detected 
is a function of how much oxygen is 
present in the blood, indicating how well 
the respiratory and circulatory systems 
are functioning. 

Robert Peura and Yitzhak Mendelson 
at WPI are using a similar approach, 
which will measure glucose susceptibil- 
ity in diabetic individuals. Peura explains 
the discovery process: He and his asso- 
ciates didn't know, at first, how to elicit 
the optical characteristics of glucose. It 
turned out that, in the band that a carbon 
dioxide laser puts out, the amount of 
light absorbed by various glucose solu- 

Should people who need a biomedical 
device subject themselves to experimen- 
tal science? Take, for instance, the coch- 
lear implant, which simulates acoustic 
signals and restores sounds and even an 
understanding of speech to some other- 
wise deaf people. "I do not now recom- 
mend implantation," says Frank Bowe, 
a 1969 graduate of Western Maryland 
College who chaired the United States 
Commission on Education of the Deaf. 
An authority on microcomputers and an 
advocate for the disabled, he was the 
first executive director of the American 
Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities. 

Bowe is deaf. He points out that the 
cochlea lies dangerously near facial 
nerves that could be severed by miscal- 
culated surgery— a penalty too stiff for 
the current status of cochlear-implant 
technology. He would prefer to wait un- 
til it gets out of the Model T phase and 
into a stage of sophistication more like 
Ford's Taurus, he says. 

Bowe feels that speech recognition via 
computer is a more fruitful line for deaf 
people to anticipate. Such technology 

currently, he says, is "speaker-depend- 
ent"; the computer makes templates 
from a specific speaker's words, then 
displays them on a screen as that speaker 
says them. Voice-recognition machines 
that function independently of a specific 
speaker are "about five years away." He 
adds, "What we are doing outside the 
body will get us to real comprehension 
of speech faster than this device im- 
planted in the body." 

But assume that a cochlear implant in- 
volved no risk. Patients would still face 
the recurring health-care question of ac- 
cess and cost. Currently a cochlear de- 
vice, including surgery, costs about 
$20,000. Physicians can determine in 
advance whether a patient is physically 
able to receive the implant (depending 
on whether bone has closed off the inner 
ear), but they can't tell how much a pa- 
tient will benefit from it before the 

Will insurance pay for something so 
uncertain? Terry Hambrecht at the Na- 
tional Institutes of Health is mindful of 
the problem, but notes, "For people in 

research, our main consideration is mak- 
ing these devices possible. Once we de- 
velop them, we go on to try to perfect 
them or develop new ones and hope that 
the rest of the system will take care of 
providing them to individuals." 

But few researchers seem comfortable 
about that prospect. Howard Chizeck at 
Case Western Reserve University notes 
that some devices enhance the quality of 
life without obviously changing the pro- 
ductivity of the recipients; he wonders if 
insurance companies will be eager to 
cover costs in such cases, even though 
the technology could cut the cost of full- 
time care, not to mention both the finan- 
cial and emotional drains on the families. 

In the United States, health-care costs 
already consume some 1 1 percent of the 
gross national product. New devices 
bring new dilemmas, if only over the 
cost. For example, an implantable defib- 
rillator can sense whether blood is being 
pumped to the heart and within seconds 
send an electric shock to restart the 
heartbeat. It's a technological advance 
over the portable machine used by par- 


tions changed; the more glucose, the 
more absorbed light. They first meas- 
ured glucose and water, then glucose and 
blood. The researchers made use of a 
special prism to prevent the liquid from 
absorbing too much of the light energy. 

One remaining challenge, Peura says, 
is finding a way to make the measure- 
ment without drawing a blood sample. 
Then it would be as noninvasive as the 
pulse oximeter. 

For this kind of research, Peura points 
out, information from the sensor must 
be what you want to measure — yet often 
that's the catch, because the body's 
physiology changes constantly. Pulse 
oximetry can be thrown off, he notes, if 
the blood that's measured comes from a 
person who has just stepped in from the 
cold, whose body is adjusting to the 
warmer atmosphere. Or an electrocardi- 
ogram done on a person who is exercis- 
ing might mask electrical signals given 
off by the heart with those generated by 
the active muscles. Peura seems to speak 
for Kresch and Rudy and many others 
when he says, "You can analyze data to 
the nth degree, but if you don't have a 










amedics, where delays of a few minutes 
can cause irreversible brain damage. 
Long-term care for a brain-damaged pa- 
tient is extremely expensive. But the im- 
plantable defibrillator costs about 
$15,000; tests, surgery, and recovery 
might run another $20,000. 

In the United Kingdom, there's a two- 
to-three-year, government-assigned 
waiting list for the implantable defibril- 
lator. Those who have the money can 
come to the United States and get the 
device and go back home. Those who 
don't must wait, and thus some may not 
live as long as they could have with the 

Alfred Potvin devoted 17 years to uni- 
versity teaching before arriving at Eli 
Lilly & Co. to work on biomedical prod- 
ucts. When his students questioned cost, 
distribution, and ethics, he let them re- 
spond to each other's points. "Invaria- 
bly," he says, "I'd find that you get into 
a controversy that no one has an answer 
to — which is about where we are in the 
real world." 

representative signal, it's of no value. 
That's why the whole area of sensors 
and making accurate measurements is so 

Current sensors, as crucial as 
they are for so many electronic 
machines, are relatively 
crude— at least for the complex 
demands of hearing or seeing or walk- 
ing. In fact, Wen H. Ko, professor of 
electrical engineering and biomedical 
engineering at CWRU, can make the best 
of them sound primitive. In the broad 
sense, he says, a sensor can be not only 
a measuring device but also an "actua- 
tor," controlling the flow of electrical 
impulses or bodily fluids or drugs. No- 
body has designed a microactuator to 
put in the body to determine its own 
commands and carry them out, he says 
(that would be a closed-loop system). 
The insulin pump at Hopkins, he points 
out, requires an external programmer. 

Ko is trying to develop a control with 
many positions, which would be useful, 
for example, to hydrocephalic children, 
whose brain ventricles are too large and 
fill with fluid, thus compressing the 
brain. Current treatment involves insert- 
ing a shunt, which directs the fluid to 
the abdominal cavity. Relieved of excess 
fluid, the ventricle recovers to almost 
normal size. But then the drained ventri- 
cle tends to become too small, causing 
severe headaches. In addition, as the 
child grows up, the shunt may become 
too short, or be accidentally pulled out, 
or become clogged. 

Physicians would like to be able to 
avoid these obstacles and others— for in- 
stance, the "syphon effect," which oc- 
curs when a patient who is lying down 
suddenly stands up. Doctors also want 
to narrow the shunt as the child grows 
up, eventually closing it entirely. Ko es- 
timates that a third to half of all children 
with hydrocephalus would benefit from 
such a control device. 

He and his associates are building a 
prototype sensor that will measure fluid 
pressure as well as body temperature and 
any tendency to clog. The valve, ideally 
one millimeter in diameter, would open 
to permit anywhere from a fifth of to 
three times the normal flow, and be self- 
flushing. The sensor would last at least 
a decade and maintain itself automati- 
cally. And the whole package— control 
valve and sensor electronics — would be 
no more than an inch square and three 
eighths of an inch thick, with as many 

as 5,000 transistors. 

Such a device, he says, would con- 
tinue the development of integrated cir- 
cuit technology from the early pace- 
maker (which had perhaps four 
transistors), to the insulin pump, to the 
electrical stimulation devices. The sen- 
sor may be the next. He figures that it's 
one of the most internally complex elec- 
tronic systems attempted — in some ways 
three times the complexity of the insulin 
pump or the implanted muscle stimula- 
tor. He predicts that the device is a year 
from being tested in an animal and per- 
haps three years from clinical trial. 
"Once we show it can be done, many 
more things will follow," he says. 

Alfred Potvin has that same feeling. 
"Whoever develops better sensors, in- 
side or outside the body, is going to be 
in a terrific position to develop whole 
families of new products that will make 
obsolete much of what's in the market- 
place today," he says. A 1964 WPI grad- 
uate who went on to earn a doctorate in 
bioengineering, Potvin directs the medi- 
cal instrument systems research at Eli 
Lilly & Co. (Lilly, chiefly a pharmaceu- 
tical firm, gains 13 percent of its sales 
from medical devices.) Potvin oversees 
a research unit that, last year, success- 
fully completed work on a closed-loop 
drug delivery system. Currently his 18 
researchers devote all their time to 

The technology for sensors has been 
around since the 1950s, yet there are 
still no commercially available chemical 
sensors for measuring within the body 
such things as the concentration of 
drugs. "Biocompatibility is a problem," 
Potvin notes. Some physical sensors— 
for measuring blood pressure or veloc- 
ity, for example — are available, but they 
may work for only a few hours or a day. 
With many years of additional develop- 
ment of the sensor, the glucose levels 
being tested by Peura at WPI might be 
read by patients who are wearing the 
measuring device like a wristwatch. 

How refined can technology become? 
Scientists often don't know whether the 
obstacle is the state of technology or 
their limited understanding of how the 
human body works. "You never know 
where you're going to end up," says 
Peura, "so you go through steps: You 
know where you want to be and you look 
at various approaches and at what others 
are doing. You keep refining, going back 
and forth (between theory and applica- 
tion), until it all falls together." 


The day 

broke into 

the office 

of the dean 

The Scholar- 

Big man on the Whittier campus, Dick 
Nixon (number 23 on the "Poetlings") 
at Duke later tackled a transom. 

By Ken Sokolow 

. . . and other 
episodes from 
our presidents' 
college careers 

With the advent of the Mi- 
ami Herald school of 
journalism, every aspect 
of the candidates' lives 
is now seen as fair 
game. Yet one incubator for the styles 
and work habits of future presidents— 
their college careers— still tends to be 
ignored, even during election years. 

Since the inauguration of George 
Washington in 1789, 30 of the 39 men 
who have served as president have at- 
tended American colleges as undergrad- 
uates. And there's a striking similarity 
between their behavior and attitudes in 
college and their performance in office. 
What follow are some highlights (and 
low points) of the five behavioral types. 

THESE MEN — John Adams, James 
Madison, and Woodrow Wilson among 
them— were devoted to learning for its 
own sake. Had they not become in- 
volved in politics, they could have be- 
come career academicians. Indeed, that's 
what Wilson was for most of his adult 
life. Scholar-Geniuses couldn't win the 
affection of the masses and so were re- 
spected, not loved. 

Adams, unlike George Washington, 
his predecessor as president, did gradu- 
ate from college. A man of wide-rang- 
ing intellectual curiosity, Adams became 
a voracious reader while a student at 
Harvard (1751-55). He wrote that his 
"love of books and fondness for study 
dissipated all my inclination for sports 
and even for the society of the ladies." 
But that was years before he met the 
brilliant Abigail Smith. The college's 
rigorous discipline — starting with morn- 
ing prayers at 6, daily recitations, en- 
forced curfews, and dreadful food (salt 
fish on Saturday was the highlight of the 
week)— didn't seem to affect the dedi- 
cated Adams. 

Immersed in his studies, he chose not 
to take part in the reckless japes of his 
slightly younger friend John Hancock, 
who had been fined by the college for 
getting a slave drunk to the point of en- 
dangering his life. Through a literary 
club whose members read aloud new 
plays and poems, Adams developed his- 
trionic abilities that proved to be helpful 
in his legal and political careers. 

In 1755, one listener was so impressed 
with the commencement speech Adams 
delivered at Harvard that on the spot he 
offered him a job as a schoolmaster in 
Worcester, Massachusetts. Adams ac- 
cepted and taught for a year, then began 
reading law. The least appreciated of the 
Founding Fathers, Adams as president 
would fight a lonely but successful bat- 
tle to keep America out of a full-fledged 
war with France in the late 1790s. 

Madison, another bookworm, was sent 
in 1769 to the College of New Jersey at 
Princeton instead of the College of Wil- 
liam and Mary at Williamsburg, where 
Virginia aristocrats were supposed to be 
educated. His family thought the colder 


climate would be more healthful than the 
malarial tidewater marshes. Frail and a 
hypochondriac, Madison studied theol- 
ogy, considered to be good preparation 
for meeting one's Maker in an untimely 
fashion (he lived to be only 84). 

Madison completed the normal three- 
year course at Princeton in two years, 
but at quite a cost: His sleep, he wrote, 
"was reduced to less than five hours in 
the twenty-four." Too much study and 
too little exercise took a heavy toll on 
him for years after graduation. 

Since the privately tutored youth al- 
ready knew more Latin than most of his 
classmates, he was free to concentrate 
on a newer discipline— "the law of na- 
ture and of nations"— advocated by the 
college's president, the Rev. John With- 
erspoon. The educator had two basic 
rules for his students: "Lads, ne'er do 
ye speak unless ye have something to 
say, and when ye are done, be sure and 
leave off." The extremely shy Madison 
may have taken this too much to heart, 
for he never overcame his dread of pub- 
lic speaking. His first inaugural address, 
listeners complained, was inaudible. 

The most recent example of the all- 
but-extinct species of the presidential 
Scholar-Genius was Woodrow Wilson. 
The first president to earn a PhD (from 
Johns Hopkins) and the first college 
president to become president of the 
United States (he led Princeton from 
1902 to 1910), Wilson was a compulsive 
perfectionist with a marked tendency to 
nervous disorder. But ultimately he was 
an achiever. From boyhood he was im- 
bued with the desire to become a great 
statesman and orator; his undergraduate 
hero was Gladstone, his gospel was free 
trade, and his attitude was that of a 
snobbish Anglophile. 

In 1873 he entered Davidson College, 
but later transferred to Princeton. Even 
though illness forced him to leave both 
Davidson and the University of Virginia 
Law School, this self-described "ideal- 
ist, with the heart of a poet" always 
managed to return to an academic 

A world-class scholar, Wilson could 
also be a world-class klutz. On one 
memorable occasion while a student, he 
entered an elegant Princeton drawing 
room, slipped on a rug, skated across a 
glossy floor with his arms thrown out 
for balance, and stopped just short of 
knocking over his hostess. Clearly, this 
eccentric genius belonged in an aca- 
demic environment, where he could do 

the country the least harm. By a series 
of flukes, he became a U.S. president, 
nominated on the 46th ballot. 

Aloofness, reserve, and a tendency to 
despise popularity were common threads 
among Adams, Madison, and Wilson. 
They had enormous faith in their own 
judgment and rectitude, which made for 
tremendous difficulties in dealing with 
Congress. Adams lost the leadership of 
the Federalist party because of his stub- 
bornness, pomposity, and political in- 
competence. Wilson's League of 
Nations proposals failed in Congress, in 
large measure because of his invalidism, 
tantrums, and contempt for back-room 
negotiations. For a nation to be led in 
wartime by men of scholarly tempera- 
ment, as it was by Madison and Wilson, 
poses difficult problems. 


THESE PRESIDENTS would be called 
workaholics today— or nerds or wonks by 
their college peers. They typically grad- 
uated at or near the head of their classes. 
Rutherford B. Hayes was the valedictor- 
ian at Kenyon College. Salutatorian 
James K. Polk took first honor in clas- 
sics and mathematics at the University 
of North Carolina. Commencement ora- 
tor Benjamin Harrison was voted "one 


Princeton proved idyllic for Woodrow 
Wilson (shown in a Vanity Fair sketch 
when he became U.S. president). 

of the three brightest men" at Miami 
University of Ohio. All were motivated 
by a deep-seated religious faith and a 
strong desire to succeed, all were under- 
graduate leaders, and all were temper- 
ance advocates. But the Pious Plodders- 
Jimmy Carter among them — didn't cap- 
ture the public's imagination, and they 
were always one-term presidents. 

Jim Polk, a frontier Calvinist and strict 
Sabbath observer, had no discernible 
sense of humor. Before the advent of 
Coach Dean Smith's basketball teams, 
he was Chapel Hill's main claim to 
fame. Polk as a student was logical and 
methodical. In 1818, he graduated after 
only two and a half years, having earned 
a reputation for promptness and depend- 
ability. "As certain as Polk will rise at 
the first call" became a campus expres- 
sion for absolute certainty that outlasted 
his sojourn at Chapel Hill. 

The campus Dialectic Society, in 
which Polk held every office including 
president, debated the question, "Would 
an extension of territory be an advantage 


"Ruddy" Hayes 
roomed in Ken- 
yon 's Old Main. 
The college 
erected a flagpole 
around 1877 to 
salute him. 

to the United States?" It's unclear which 
side Polk took, but the majority of the 
society voted "no." When he became 
the nation's president, Polk argued the 
affirmative— and settled the Oregon 
boundary dispute with the British, made 
Texas a state, and went to war with 
Mexico to fulfill America's "manifest 
destiny" to rule from sea to sea. Pre- 
dictably, Polk as president accomplished 
all the goals on his agenda. 

"Ruddy" Hayes became quite popular 
at Kenyon, graduating in 1843 and win- 
ning a reputation as a great conciliator 
between students from the North and the 
South. As president, conciliation would 
be his aim as well. Hayes was so mor- 
ally straight that pragmatic Ohio politi- 
cians nicknamed him "Granny"; he and 
his First Lady, "Lemonade Lucy," 
banned alcoholic beverages from White 
House receptions. 

Ben Harrison, the grandson of Presi- 
dent William Henry Harrison, trans- 
ferred to Miami of Ohio to be near his 
beloved Caroline Scott, whom he later 
married. In fact, he spent so much time 
on the Scotts' front porch that class- 
mates nicknamed him "the pious moon- 
light dude." Like the Hayes family, the 
Harrisons set a high moral tone for an 
indifferent nation during his presidential 
term (1889-93). They started the tradi- 
tion of the White House Christmas tree 
(which has lasted) and revived the Hayes 
habit of Sunday evening hymn-singing 
(which has not). 

A modern-day throwback to the Pious 
Plodders was Jimmy Carter, who, 
shortly after his inauguration, lectured 
an audience of bureaucrats on the dan- 
gers of living in sin, urging such couples 

to marry. His audience at first suspected 
he might be joking. 

Carter had been rushed through the 
U.S. Naval Academy in three years, due 
to a shortage of officers in 1946 (he also 
attended Georgia Tech and Georgia 
Southwestern College). He graduated in 
the top 10 percent of his class, but la- 
mented in his autobiography that he 
hadn't worked up to his potential — a typ- 
ical Pious Plodder attitude. 


JOHN F. KENNEDY certainly was one. 
So was a lesser known and notably in- 
consequential president, Franklin Pierce, 
who was actually one of the more color- 
ful undergraduates in American political 
history. At Bowdoin College (class of 
1824), he had a scrape with cheating 
when he copied an algebraic problem 
from the slate of the class brain— Calvin 
Stowe — the future clergyman and hus- 
band of novelist Harriet Beecher. When 
challenged, Pierce frankly admitted his 
deed, delighting the class and disarming 
the teacher. 

Pierce's charmed life at Bowdoin is an 
example of self-indulgence going un- 
punished and unchecked, and may in- 
deed have had a lasting effect on his 
abilities to govern himself and his coun- 
try. Thirsting for the kind of military 
glory his father had achieved in the Rev- 
olutionary War, Frank Pierce organized 
a student cadet corps that persisted in 
parading across the lawn of the college 
president. After several warnings, the 
president caught Pierce marching his 
corps across the forbidden territory. He 
reportedly told Pierce, "I will have you 

know, sir, that here civil law is superior 
to military." Anyone else would have 
been expelled, but no action was taken 
to punish the popular Pierce. Nor was 
he ever disciplined for leading a senior- 
year springtime rebellion and boycott of 
classes — rather common in 19th-century 
colleges with their very restrictive rules. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, a year behind 
Pierce at Bowdoin, wrote a flattering 
election-year biography portraying his 
college friend as one of nature's noble- 
men, beloved by all at Bowdoin for his 
generosity of spirit, his effervescent 
sense of humor, and so on. Pierce is the 
least believable character in Haw- 
thorne's fiction, but the electorate swal- 
lowed the image. 

Pierce reached his level of compe- 
tence in local New Hampshire politics 
and a small-town law practice. But 
boosted by the magic of the family's 
name in the Granite State (where his 
father had been twice elected governor), 
he was propelled into an undeservedly 
successful political career. At one time, 
he was the youngest U.S. senator. He 
could be called General Pierce, without 
stretching the truth too far, after his 
service (rather undistinguished) in the 
Mexican War. A man with no enemies 
to speak of and no controversial posi- 
tions to alienate the South, Pierce won 
the nomination on the 49th ballot at a 
deadlocked Democratic convention in 
Baltimore in 1852. 

But his string of luck ran out after his 
election. The victory of style over sub- 
stance, personality over achievement, 
that had sustained him at Bowdoin could 
not carry him through the White House. 
Pierce-bashing has been a favorite sport 
of historians for the past century. Even 
in his native state, a satirical Franklin 
Pierce Society exists "to rescue him 
from the obscurity he so richly 


said of Ulysses S. Grant, a fellow 
Ohioan several years behind him at West 
Point, "a more unpromising boy never 


entered the military academy." (Sher- 
man never met cadet Edgar Allan Poe.) 
At five-foot-one and 117 pounds, Grant 
looked more like a jockey than a future 
general. And it was only as a daring 
equestrian that Grant (class of 1843) was 
to distinguish himself at West Point. He 
set a high-jump record that stood for 25 
years. He broke bad horses using infinite 
patience and tact, but lacked those qual- 
ities when it came to his courses. 

"A military life had no charms for 
me, and I had not the faintest idea of 
staying in the army even if I should be 
graduated, which I did not expect," 
Grant wrote in his Personal Memoirs. 
"I did not take hold of my studies with 
avidity, in fact I rarely if ever read over 
a lesson the second time during my en- 
tire cadetship." He saw the Point as a 
place of confinement, and found his es- 
cape in reading novels, but not "those 
of a trashy sort," he emphasized. One of 
his professors, Dennis Mahan, said 
Grant's "mental machine was of the 
powerful low-pressure class which con- 
denses its own steam and consumes its 
own smoke." 

The two happiest days of his life, 
Grant later said, were the day he left 
West Point and the day he left the White 
House. Stoic and taciturn, Grant suf- 
fered through both ordeals. The pattern 
of academic sloppiness and escapist be- 
havior marking his time at the military 
academy recurred in his two terms in the 
White House (1869-77). His administra- 
tion was marred by unprecedented high- 
level graft, matched only after 1921, 
when the next academic idler to become 
president— Warren G. Harding— ushered 
in the era of the Teapot Dome. 


Nixon had hoped for Harvard, but fi- 
nances kept him at Whittier. 

American politics, this category harbors 
the shrewdest and least ethical politi- 
cians, among them Lyndon B. Johnson 
and Richard M. Nixon. Pragmatic rather 
than idealistic, they have a deserved rep- 
utation for getting things done. 

LBJ, known as "Bull" Johnson for his 
constant exaggerations and distortions, 
excelled as a campus political organizer, 
arm-twister, and vote-getter at South- 
west Texas State Teachers College. 

Nixon at Whittier College was the un- 
disputed "big man on campus": presi- 
dent of his freshman class, the student 
body, the history club, and a male social 
organization called the Orthogonians. He 
was second in his graduating class in 
1934. Each year, he went out for the 
football team, displaying tremendous 
spirit and little ability. But sometimes 
the team let him deliver locker-room pep 
talks. Dick Nixon shared Vince Lom- 
bardi's credo of winning being the only 
thing. Unfortunately, any football team 
called the "Poetlings" (in honor of the 
college's namesake, John Greenleaf 
Whittier) isn't going to strike terror in 
the hearts of opponents. 

The Whittier student newspaper, 
Quaker Campus, reported, "Nixon is a 
rather quiet chap about campus, but get 
him on a platform with a pitcher of wa- 
ter and a table to pound on and he will 
orate for hours." Some accused him of 
trickery as a debater; the editor of the 
school paper saw him pretend to read 
statistics from a blank piece of paper. 

In his campaign for student body pres- 
ident, Nixon seized on an issue about 
which he cared little, but realized the 
students cared a great deal: the college's 
ban on dancing. He urged that students 
be permitted to hold dances on campus 
to keep them from patronizing the dives 
of Los Angeles. Thus he won a landslide 
victory— and the chore of organizing the 

While taking charge of virtually every 
organization whose path he crossed, he 

was also getting up at 4 a.m. to buy 
fresh produce for the family grocery 
store. His family's circumstances had 
forced him to live at home and attend 
Whittier instead of Harvard, where he'd 
won a scholarship. At Whittier, his pru- 
dent Milhous forebears had established 
a scholarship trust designed to help such 
unfortunate descendants. 

When Nixon applied to Duke Law 
School, Whittier President Walter Dex- 
ter wrote to the dean, "I cannot recom- 
mend him too highly because I believe 
that Nixon will become one of Ameri- 
ca's important, if not great, leaders." He 
earned a scholarship to Duke and came 
to lead a monastic existence to maintain 
the highest possible class rank. In the 
spring of 1936, when law students be- 
came anxious about the late posting of 
grades, he climbed through the narrow, 
open transom above the dean's office 
and unlocked the door for his two co- 
conspirators. The three friends found the 
key to open the desk drawer and peeked 
at their grades; after Nixon saw that he 
had dropped below third place, they put 
the files back and left. 

Perhaps the Duke break-in did leave 
its mark on Nixon. If one believes a 
story recounted by H.R. Haldeman in 
The Ends of Power, John Dean and Pres- 
ident Nixon were discussing the possi- 
bility of obtaining tax files on prominent 
Democrats. When Dean complained 
about the difficulties, the president sup- 
posedly responded, "There are always 
ways to do it. (Expletive deleted), sneak 
in in the middle of the night." What we 
see in college is generally what we get 
in the White House. The workers will 
continue to work, the shirkers to shirk, 
the invalids to suffer, the Machiavellians 
to scheme. The consequences for the na- 
tion can be quite traumatic, for example 
the national uproar over the "third-rate 
burglary" and elaborate cover-up known 
as Watergate. 

To paraphrase the gloomy lesson of 
Hawthorne's The House of The Seven 
Gables, the sins of the adolescents were 
visited upon the adults (and the nation 
they led) in every generation. On the 
other hand, imagine how boring history 
would be had the nation chosen only 
presidents with unblemished college 
records. All of our leaders could have 
been clones of Harrison and Hayes. 

Ken Sokolow studied history at Johns 
Hopkins. A Baltimore writer, he collects 
presidential anecdotes and memorabilia. 


The Winners 


► First Prize, 

Black & White 
Amalia Winer 
Nepean, Ontario 

This was the first time 
that our son had used his 
own imagination to cre- 
ate something very real 
to him. He made his cos- 
tume, and came flying 
through the room. It was 
really fantastic! 

rowth and change were the themes 
of our photography contest. Readers 
responded with more than 300 im- 
ages of memorable moments. Many 
caught the fragility of life's begin- 
nings: a fuzzy, newborn camel with a 
Mona Lisa smile; a toddler asleep in 
a Great Dane's paws; a sailor carry- 
ing his infant son in a matching 
sailor suit to the commissioning of a 

On some, the captions told a be- 
hind-the-scenes tale. One described 
two solemn Turkish brothers await- 
ing the ritual of circumcision. A nun 
biking through Cape May Point, 

New Jersey, wrote of how a row of 
martin houses reminded her of the 
"order and simple beauty in God's 

Our judges sought out spark and 
spontaneity, a touch of humor and 
humaneness. The two grand prize 
winners — "Superboy" and the lava 
flow — are aspects of energy un- 
leashed. They received $200; the 
other nine winners received $75. 
Our thanks to all of you who en- 
tered and to the judges: Peter 
Howard, a Baltimore photographer, 
and Amy Wells, AMC production 
coordinator/de signer. 


Daniel Fred 
Goodman, MD 
Assistant Professor, 
Johns Hopkins Hospital 

As I traveled through 
mainland China in 1982, 
I made many new 
friends. This young 
child, in a day-care cen- 
ter on a rural commune, 
was initially frightened 
by the presence of a 
stranger from "far 
away"; he ran to the far 
corner of this room. 
Soon, however, we be- 
came good friends and 
spent the afternoon to- 
gether with the other 
children, playing and ex- 
ploring. It was a special 
moment of growth for 
both him and me, as we 
were able to overcome 
cultural barriers and dis- 
cover that a smile is truly 

A First Prize, 


John E. Bowen 
Hilo, Hawaii 
Western Maryland 
College, Class of '60 

A lava flow from Ki- 
lauea volcano on the is- 
land of Hawaii enters the 
Pacific Ocean at dusk. 
To witness this sight is to 
feel oneself in intimate 
communication with na- 
ture and the forces of 


► Frank P. Maloney 
Assistant Professor, 
Villanova University 

The physicians decided 
that after my wife was in 
labor for 46 hours, our 
son would need a help- 
ing hand (literally) to 

make the really big 
change to independent 
life. So, little Ryan Ma- 
loney was born by Cae- 
sarean section on Sep- 
tember 9, 1987, and 
captured on film by his 
dad. Mom was . . . busy. 

▲ Barbara J. LaValley 
Groton, Connecticut 
(mother of Brian W. 
LaValley, Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute, 
Class of '90) 

Growing up brings many 
new experiences in life. 
Holding on to younger 
joys reminds us of those 
growing-up times. The 
sharing of father and son 
in this picture depicts 
just one of those times. 


<* Alicia Koppel 
Santa Barbara, 

Two young boys by their 
shack in Tijuana, Mex- 
ico. Unaware of my 
presence (I used a tele- 
photo lens), they were 
playing and learning 
things in their own way. 
It was at a time when 
school was in session, 
but, at their age, their 
parents prefer to keep 
them at home. 

■< Barry H. 
Penchansky, MD 

This moment in nature 
was captured with the 
goal of offering the 
viewer the transcen- 
dency I experienced 
while taking these pic- 
tures. I was on vacation 
in 1983 in Upper Gali- 
lee, near the Hula Res- 
ervoir, at a bird sanctu- 
ary. I shot the reflection 
of the sun in a papyrus 
swamp. From the several 
rolls of pictures I took 
that day, this was my 

► Mark M.Miller 
Medical Illustrator, 
Johns Hopkins 
School of Medicine 

Aging is change. Inevi- 
table, indifferent, and 
universal, it is an ines- 
capable truth of life. 
How we accept this 
change is partly deter- 
mined by our own sense 
of self-fulfillment, and 
by the realization that we 
are really never alone. 


1 %/nesiM 

- 1 9 


^ Laura Ross Stevens 
Plainfield, New Jersey 
Western Reserve 
College, Class of '79 

While visiting the Rhode 
Island Children's Mu- 
seum, Max stopped to 

paint his first picture. He 
turned away to play with 
a brush. I called for him 
to look toward me and as 
the paint dribbled down 
his chin, it was all I could 
do to take the photo. 

Kimberly Anson 
Frederick, Maryland 
Western Maryland 
College, Class of '89 

Sunset over Masai Mara 
in Kenya. Topis can be 
seen on the horizon at 

the last moment before 
day changes into night, 
and the breathtaking 
sunset fades quickly into 
darkness. How exciting 
it was to capture that 

▲ Paul F. Viggiano 
Villanova University, 
Class of '79 

As communications cot 
ordinator for Philadel 
phia Life Insurance 
Company, I was asked tc 
snap a few pictures at thf 
annual Service Awards 
Ceremony. The fina; 
award was to be given to 
Rod Ross, president ol 
the company, by Dav& 
Erwin, the chairman. Ii 
was obvious the two men 
had a deep feeling foi 
each other, and I sensed 
a great picture was about 
to happen. As the two 
men shook hands, Rod 
quickly turned and de- 
cided to plant a nice 
"wet one" on Dave's 
cheek. I snapped the pic- 
ture. This moment madei 
me realize something 
very important: Even ini 
the cold, often imper-i 
sonal world of business, 1 
there is always a time for 
love and caring. It truly I 
was a moment of growth: 
and change for me. 


WPFs computer-aided 

engineering center 

is helping to define 

the future of 


By Paul Susca 

GONE ARE THE DAYS of the slide 
rule. Computers have dramatically trans- 
formed the practice of engineering, and 
the changes are far from over. Although 
such buzzwords as computer-aided de- 
sign (CAD) and computer-aided manu- 
facturing (CAM) are entrenched in the 
engineer's vocabulary, only recently has 
computer-aided engineering (CAE) come 
into its own. WPI's own CAE Center is 
less than two years old, but, with its 
dedicated computational and graphics 
facilities and pioneering research, it has 
quickly garnered such a reputation that 
last year it boasted nearly $1 million 
worth of industry- and government- 
sponsored research contracts. 

"Computer-aided engineering is re- 
ally a late 20th-century term used to de- 
scribe what was known as mechanical 
design in the first half of the century," 
says Richard H. Gallagher, former pro- 
vost and vice president for academic af- 
fairs (now president of Clarkson Univer- 
sity), a driving force behind the 
formation of the CAE Center. But the 
work that is taking place today at the 
Center indicates that computer-aided en- 
gineering is much more than an exten- 
sion of design activities formerly done 
manually by engineers with their slide 


Shape of 

to Come 

Photos by Michael Carroll 


"The computer takes 
engineering into new 
territory, and changes 
the process whereby 
components and manu- 
facturing methods 
are designed." 

rules. CAE allows engineers to take on 
tasks that would be impractical and even 
impossible without the help of today's 

Much of computer-aided engineering 
involves the creation of mathematical 
models that reflect the behavior of phys- 
ical systems — a skyscraper riding out an 
earthquake, a helicopter rotor slicing the 
air, a sheet of metal being run through a 
stamping press. In order to accurately 
represent all the forces at work in such 
systems and to take into account how 
each part is different from every other 
part, CAE models typically divide the 
system into segments and provide a set 
of equations to represent the forces at 
work in each segment. The finer the 
grain of the model — the more segments 
there are — the more accurately the model 
will represent the real-world system. 

But as the model becomes more fine- 
grained, the task of solving all those 
equations simultaneously becomes mas- 
sive; indeed, the point is very quickly 
reached where only powerful computers 
can perform the analysis. So the com- 
puter takes engineering into new terri- 
tory, and changes the process whereby 
components and manufacturing methods 
are designed. 

"Of late, computers have become 
powerful enough that it has become a 
viable approach in engineering to try to 
simulate the detailed response of a de- 
sign in advance of actually building it," 
says James H. Kane, assistant professor 
of mechanical engineering and director 
of the CAE Center. 

Without CAE, developing the best de- 
sign would take an engineer, armed only 
with his own judgment, experience and 
gross information derived from hand 
calculations, through the costly, repeti- 
tive process of build and bust. Not only 
would the prototype part being designed 
have to be rebuilt repeatedly, but the 
tooling to manufacture the part would 
also go through the same cycle. 

In an effort to break the build-and- 
bust cycle for Worcester-based Wyman- 

Gordon Company, a major manufacturer 
of parts for the aircraft industry, Kane is 
working with Sunil Saigal, assistant pro- 
fessor of mechanical engineering, to de- 
velop three-dimensional simulations of 
metal-forming processes on the com- 
puter. Saigal explains that Wyman-Gor- 
don's engineers wanted to predict pre- 
cisely the behavior of metals being 
forged into aircraft components. How- 
ever, parts were sometimes ending up in 
a different shape than expected, even 
breaking during the process. 

"Most of the trouble — the discrepan- 
cies between the predicted and the actual 
results — was on the surfaces of the 
parts," says Saigal. Because of the im- 
portance of surface conditions in the 
metal-forming problem, Saigal and 
Kane's approach relied on a technique 
called the boundary element method 
(BEM), which uses a mesh of points on 
the surface of a body rather than includ- 
ing both interior and surface points in 
the computer model. Kane and Saigal 
are already recognized as pioneers in the 
application of BEM to a different kind 
of CAE problem known as structural 
shape optimization. The Wyman-Gor- 
don project represents an extension of 
the method into the optimization of 
manufacturing processes. 

Wyman-Gordon is already using the 
first version of a BEM model developed 
by the WPI team. Anil Gupta, a Ph.D. 
student working with Saigal and Kane, 
is now concentrating on modeling metal 
plasticity and deformations under large 
strains as part of the Wyman-Gordon 
project. He says the first version of the 
model addressed only elasticity. After 
reducing computational time for the 
elasticity analysis, Gupta says the next 
step is to look at the much more com- 
plex large-strain responses. Gupta, who 
did his master's degree work at Purdue 
University, recently co-authored a paper 
with Kane and Saigal on the algorithm 
used in the Wyman-Gordon project. 

Many of the papers that have come out 
of the CAE Center in its short lifetime 

34 SUMMER 1988 

tout the advantages of the boundary ele- 
ment method over a better-known, more 
established technique called the finite el- 
ement method. Finite element tech- 
niques first emerged in the 1950s — the 
early days of CAE — and helped make 
possible the design of supersonic air- 
craft. They reached maturity by the late 
1970s, Saigal says. 

In fact, both Kane's previous consult- 
ing activities and Saigal 's thesis work 
relied heavily on finite element tech- 
niques. Even now, Saigal is working with 
Isa Bar-On, assistant professor of me- 
chanical engineering, and graduate stu- 
dent Benjamin Hantz in an effort to 

model stresses in ceramic test speci- 
mens using finite element techniques. 
Bar-On's project, supported by the GTE 
Laboratories in Waltham, MA, is ulti- 
mately aimed at developing new fracture 
tests for structural ceramics. 

"That's pretty tricky, because these 
materials are very brittle," Bar-On says. 
"We want to see how they break. But 
it's not just how to break a ceramic, but 
how to break it in a controlled way." Her 
project is driven by a need to understand 
the fracture and fatigue behavior of ce- 
ramic engine parts. 

Although Kane and Saigal continue to 
work with finite element techniques, 

CAE Center Director James H. Kane 
says the close-knit atmosphere in the 
research collaborative promotes a 
sense of excitement among the fac- 
ulty and students. 


Sunil Saigal, assistant professor of 
mechanical engineering, is helping to 
streamline the process of designing 
complex mechanical parts with a 
technique known as the boundary 
element analysis. 

their work on shape optimization prob- 
lems has led them to prefer boundary 
element techniques over the finite ele- 
ment method for that problem. Because 
of its tremendous computation require- 
ments, shape optimization favors BEM, 
Saigal says, because of the method's 
more efficient use of computer time. 

The typical shape optimization prob- 
lem could involve a component of a 
high-performance engine that subjects 
the part to extreme temperature, pres- 
sure or mechanical stress. Redesigning 
the part by altering its shape will result 
in a different distribution of stresses 
through the part, ultimately prolonging 
its lifetime. 

"For parts which are complex," Sai- 
gal says, "you may end up with such an 
involved finite element model that it's 
practically impossible to run because it 
exceeds the limits of the computer." 

But in order to optimize the shape of 
the part, the model has to be run five or 
six or even more times, incrementally 
changing the shape each time. "What 

you want to do in such a case is to have 
an analysis tool that doesn't require so 
much computer time," Saigal says. The 
boundary element method offers an 

Due to the importance of increased 
computational efficiency and to their 
success in formulating shape optimiza- 
tion approaches based on BEM, Kane 
and Saigal have been awarded a grant 
from the National Science Foundation 
(NSF) to further develop boundary ele- 
ment methods. In the early phase of the 
NSF work— dealing with two-dimen- 
sional shape optimization— the profes- 
sors are making great strides. "We have 
already developed some methods where 
we have gone an order of magnitude 
lower in computational time" compared 
with commercially available shape-op- 
timization computer programs, Saigal 

Another NSF project, awarded to Sai- 
gal as a prestigious NSF Research Initi- 
ation Grant, involves the development of 
three-dimensional shape optimization 

36 SUMMER 1988 

methods. Again, the aim is to reduce the 
size of the model— the Saigal-Kane ap- 
proach is to concentrate on that portion 
of a body that can be redesigned. Some 
portions of a machine part, Kane ex- 
plains, must remain a certain shape in 
order to fit with other parts or for other 
technical reasons, and those portions 
don't have to be included in the model 
in their fully expanded form. "We think 
this approach is going to make three- 
dimensional shape optimization feasible 
with today's computers," he says, 
whereas today optimization is out of 
reach on all but the fastest supercompu- 
ters. Kane and Saigal's immediate goal 
is to prove that their approach can con- 
dense the model. 

If Kane and Saigal seem to be carry- 
ing a heavy load of research projects, it 
is only possible because of the dozen 
undergraduate and graduate students who 
have become dedicated partners in the 
CAE Center. For example, in his thesis, 
graduate student Mark Stabinsky is de- 
veloping efficient computer algorithms 
to predict the sensitivity of designs sub- 
ject to various body forces— centrifugal 
and gravitational forces as well as ther- 
mal loading — to changes in design, all 
using boundary element techniques. The 
project is funded by United Technolo- 
gies Corporation and the Electric Boat 
Division of General Dynamics. When 
Stabinsky originally came to WPI from 
the College of the Holy Cross, he was 
using computers housed in Higgins Lab- 
oratories, but he finds the think-tank at- 
mosphere of the CAE Center's dedi- 
cated computer laboratory makes a big 

Creating that close-knit atmosphere 
was deliberately planned into the Center, 
Kane says. "Finding a place to house 
the students so that they were just a 
phone call away from the professors and 
from each other, and having a laboratory 
where they could work together instead 
of having them distributed over some 
terminals somewhere, makes a tremen- 
dous difference," he says, "and I think 

the funding agencies sense it when they 
come here, meet our students and see 
our laboratory and the publications 
we've produced." 

The success of the Center results from 
more than its excellent facilities on the 
third floor of Washburn Shops. The 
Center's annual lecture series, organized 
by Saigal, also has a role in attracting 
the attention of leading CAE researchers 
from around the world, thanks in no 
small part to Dick Gallagher's renown 
as an early pioneer of finite element 
techniques for computer-aided engineer- 

Kane also attributes the Center's pro- 
digious productivity to the spirit that is 
cultivated by both teamwork and long 
hours. "It's not uncommon for there to 
be four or five students here on Sunday 
evening at ten or eleven o'clock," he 
says. "All of this comes together to give 
the students a feeling they're involved in 
a project that's bigger than themselves," 
Kane says. "I think there is something 
about teamwork that will embolden peo- 

Isa Bar-On, assistant professor of me- 
chanical engineering, and graduate 
student Benjamin Hantz are using the 
finite element method to study frac- 
turing in ceramics. 


"As computers and 
computational methods 
advance, so does the 
complexity of the 
problems to which CAE 
is applied." 

pie to strive beyond what they would if 
they were working in isolation." 

One aspect of the cross-pollination of 
ideas at the Center is the development of 
computer tools that enhance the CAE 
design process. For example, Saigal cites 
computer graphics as an important tool 
in shape optimization work. "Graphics 
is not only a means of visualizing what 
your solution is. Your answers could be 
wrong and you could work on your for- 
mulation forever, but what is wrong is 
your input," he says. 

Saigal tells the story of a grad student 
at the Center who worked for months on 
a design problem, but repeatedly ob- 
tained wrong answers on one part of the 
problem. Poring over the printouts didn't 
turn up the cause, but once the design 
was displayed using a graphics program 
developed by computer science major 
David Gosselin '89, the grad student's 
error became obvious: he had left out a 
routine step in the computation. 

Kane emphasizes the importance of 
computer graphics as an integral part of 
computer-aided engineering. The use- 
fulness of computer solutions would be 
limited without the ability to see the re- 
sults graphically, he says. A graphics 
program being developed by mechanical 
engineering major Nicholas Soter '88, 
for example, will show temperature and 
strain contours drawn on the surface of 
a part. This will allow a designer, work- 
ing interactively with the computer, to 
"sculpt" temperature distributions that 
have the required degree of smoothness. 

"Without graphics," Kane says, "you 
could show a box full of numbers to a 
manager and he'd be skeptical about 
what they mean. But if you show him a 
color contour of the response of a part, 
right away he sees how the design needs 
to be changed. Engineers, especially en- 
gineers in upper management, are quite 
visually oriented." 

The effort to develop new CAE tools 
is already taking the Center beyond its 
original concentration in shape optimi- 
zation. Doctoral student Robert Dees, 

who came to WPI last fall because of 
the Center's concentration in boundary 
element analysis, will be focusing on 
underwater acoustics analysis using 
BEM. Dees's work, which is motivated 
by submarine sensing applications, will 
use finite element techniques to model 
ships and boundary element techniques 
to model the water. A mechanical engi- 
neer at the Naval Underwater Systems 
Center in New London, CT, Dees says 
the capabilities of WPI's CAE Center- 
primarily the expertise of the faculty — 
complement those of NUSC, particu- 
larly a Cray supercomputer that can han- 
dle problems that can't be run on the 
CAEC's Ridge computer. 

Among the faculty that Dees cites as 
providing special expertise relevant to 
his work is Professor of Mathematical 
Sciences Mayer Humi, whose work has 
included the turbulence interactions be- 
tween large structures, such as ships, 
and the fluids that surround them. One 
of the daunting aspects of turbulence 
problems, Humi says, is their complex- 
ity as measured by their degrees of free- 
dom — the number of variables involved. 
"The area of turbulence is really very 
broad and very complex," Humi says. 
"We don't have a very good understand- 
ing of it yet. I'm working on both the 
practical side of this problem and on the 
more fundamental level." Part of Hu- 
mi's turbulence work is funded by the 
Air Force, which is particularly inter- 
ested in so-called clear air turbulence— 
a set of phenomena that include wind 
shear, which has caused a number of 
sudden plane crashes. 

The practical engineering side of Hu- 
mi 's research is that "turbulence has an 
effect on all kinds of engineering prob- 
lems," he says. "It might have an effect 
on the design of airplanes if it were bet- 
ter understood." On the fundamental 
level, the study of chaos, one of the 
trendy new areas of applied mathemat- 
ics, may prove useful in Humi's turbu- 
lence work. "Chaos came along after 
people discovered that some dynamic 

38 SUMMER 1988 

systems with finite degrees of freedom 
have behaviors that are somewhat similar 
to turbulence behavior," he explains. "So 
there is hope that studying the seemingly 
chaotic behavior of relatively simple sys- 
tems will shed light on turbulence, which 
has an infinitely larger number of de- 
grees of freedom. The hope is that per- 
haps turbulence can also be understood 
by a finite degrees of freedom model," 
Humi says. 

Humi is one of several CAE research- 
ers at WPI who are only loosely associ- 
ated with the Center, but who neverthe- 
less have a role in building the Institute's 
CAE reputation. Their work is helping 
computer-aided engineering "trickle 
down," in Professor Kane's words, from 
the design of high-performance parts to 
all types of manufactured items and to a 
variety of other engineering and scien- 
tific problems. And as computers and 
computational methods advance, so does 
the complexity of the problems to which 
CAE is applied. 

"Technologies generally go in such a 
way that the easy problems are solved 

first," Kane says. "One looks at the 
stress in a component of a structure. It's 
a linear problem; it's solvable. And then 
one looks at the forging of that same 
component, involving large strains, 
plastic behavior, contact, friction, heat 
transfer and perhaps even solidification. 
It's a natural progression to more ambi- 
tious problems. We're also waiting for 
the next generation of computers to do 
these simulations." 

With those computers and with the 
evolving tools of CAE, future genera- 
tions of engineers may be able to simu- 
late even the most complex physical 
phenomena with a high degree of fidel- 
ity, Kane says. 

"In time," he notes, "computer-aided 
engineering, like the microscope, will 
become an integral and pervasive tool of 
science, and one with profound practical 
utility in the mainstream of engineer- 

Paul Susca lives in Rindge, NH. His ar- 
ticles on science and technology appear 
frequently in the Journal. 

Mayer Humi, professor of mathemat' 
ical sciences, studies the complex 
world of turbulence to look for clues 
to the cause of wind shear and other 



■ Us 


The Myth of High-Priced 
Higher Education 

By Jon C. Strauss 

During the past two years, 
Secretary of Education 
William J. Bennett led a 
highly publicized attack 
on the apparent lack of 
cost controls in higher education— par- 
ticularly in private higher education. 
With tuition at many institutions, includ- 
ing WPI, rising more rapidly than infla- 

tion, it may seem easy to accept Ben- 
nett's assertions. 

The facts, however, don't support 
Bennett's viewpoint. When one looks at 
the cost increases at many colleges and 
universities over the past decade, it is 
clear that these increases have been 
aimed primarily at improving the quality 
of and the access to higher education. 
Particularly at WPI, the contribution of 
overhead — institutional support, opera- 
tions and maintenance— to these in- 
creases has been less significant. 

This is a premise that I will expand on 
in the pages that follow. I will look at 
the various expenses that add up to the 
cost of a WPI education and then exam- 
ine how, and why, these costs have in- 
creased over the last decade. 

My analysis is based on a similar study 
presented in "Where Does the Money 
Really Go," an article in the November/ 
December 1987 issue of Change: The 
Magazine of Higher Education. In it, 
Michael O'Keefe used data from the 
Higher Education and General Informa- 
tion Survey (HEGIS) to explore the rea- 
sons behind cost increases at six repre- 
sentative colleges and universities. 
O'Keefe compared the rise in costs at 
these schools with the average for all 
U.S. institutions between 1975-76 and 

In my analysis, I will compare in- 
creases in several elements of a WPI 
education with O'Keefe's examples. I 

believe you will find the figures reassur- 
ing. They show that WPI's expenditures 
are not only consistent with its stated 
mission and goals, but are comparable 
with those of other colleges. They also 
show that WPI's efforts at cost control 
are noteworthy when compared to the 
efforts of other institutions. 

Cost vs. Price 

For most students, the price and cost of 
a college education are not the same. 
"Price" is the total of tuition and fees. 
Most colleges and universities discount 
this price significantly with financial aid 
in order to open their doors to larger and 
more diverse student bodies. Even with- 
out financial aid, though, tuition and fees 
rarely cover the true cost of providing a 
student an education at most institutions. 

At private colleges and universities, 
the difference between cost and price is 
made up from endowment, gift, research 
and public service income. These subsi- 
dies typically range from 10 to 50 per- 
cent of the true cost. Public institutions 
also have state subsidies that reduce price 
even further below cost. 

A simple working definition of the real 
per-student cost of a higher education is 
the total amount an institution spends for 
academic and support services, not in- 
cluding student residence and dining 
programs, divided by the total number 
of students. This approach, however, 
does not take into account differences in 
the intensity of various academic pro- 
grams. For example, lecture-oriented 
programs in the liberal arts are inher- 
ently less expensive than laboratory-in- 
tensive programs in the sciences and en- 
gineering. This difference must be 
considered when comparing institutions 
with different missions and programs. 



Changes in the Components of Per Student Education and General Expenditures 

Institutions of Higher Education by Type 

(Constant 1976$) 



Other Four Year* 






























Research and Public Service 











Academic Support 











Student Services 











Institutional Support 











Operations and Maintenance 











Scholarships and Fellowships 











Mandatory Transfers 












$5,477 100% $7,222 100% 32% $3,579 100% $4,504 100% 

HEGIS Data from November/December 1987 Change article. 


♦The data in Tables 1-3 have been normalized to a per student basis to adjust for changes in enrollment both between institutions and with time. In 
addition, the dollar data for 1985-86 has been adjusted to 1975-76 dollars by dividing by the CPI inflator of 1 .93 for that 10-year period. One can 
argue that certain institutional expenses are not linear with enrollment and that the CPI may not be the appropriate index for higher education 
expenses, but these normalizations provide a starting point for comparisons. 

Where Does WPI 

In Table 1 . I have reproduced data from 
the Change article which shows the per 
student educational and general (E&G) 
expenditures for all universities and other 
four-year institutions between 1975-76 
and 1985-86. During the 10-year period 
shown, E&G expenditures increased 32 
percent more than inflation at universi- 
ties and 26 percent more at other four- 
year institutions. Table 2 presents simi- 
lar data for WPI and Williams College, 
a private liberal arts institution located 
in Williamstown, MA. 

The tables raise some interesting 
points. Expenditures for instruction cur- 
rently account for 43 percent of the cost 
of a WPI education. This cost increased 
42 percent over the 10 years shown and 
is significantly higher, represents a big- 
ger share of the total educational costs, 
and has increased more rapidly than at 
other universities and four-year colleges. 
This, I believe, is consistent with WPI's 
mission to provide innovative, superior 

WPI allots a smaller portion of its ex- 
penditures for academic support than 
other universities. As we continue to 
computerize the campus and install a 
new telecommunications system, this 

component will likely rise to a level 
comparable to other institutions. 

Expenditures for institutional support 
at WPI account for only nine percent of 
our total E&G costs. While this expense 
component grew more than 44 percent 
between 1975-76 and 1985-86, it is low, 
both absolutely and relatively, compared 
with what other colleges spend. As we 
improve administrative services and ad- 
ministrative information systems, this 
component will increase toward institu- 
tional averages. 

Only eight percent of our E&G ex- 
penses are for operations and mainte- 
nance. This expense grew just seven 
percent more than inflation over the 10 
years shown. This reflects good man- 
agement practices that have been in place 
at WPI for some time. They are partic- 
ularly impressive in light of our harsh 
New England winters and the excellent 
condition of the campus. 

We spend much more than other insti- 
tutions for scholarships and fellowships. 
With a growth rate of 110 percent over 
inflation for the 10 years, this expense 
has risen much faster at WPI than else- 
where. These numbers reflect WPI's 
new commitment to meeting the full fi- 
nancial need of all academically quali- 
fied students, as well as the higher than 
average price of WPI. Interestingly, not 
only does WPI spend more than average 
on financial aid, it also spends far more 
than Williams College, one of the best 

endowed and most expensive private 
colleges in the nation. 

Tables 1 and 2 also show that WPI 
manages to present its high-quality tech- 
nological education, with the attendant 
high costs for laboratories and personal- 
ized instruction, at a total cost per stu- 
dent that is three percent less than the 
average for all universities in the U.S. 
Moreover, the greatest cost increases at 
WPI have been due to increased spend- 
ing for instruction, scholarships and fel- 
lowships, the components that most af- 
fect educational quality and are of 
greatest benefit to individual students. 

Comparative Prices 

Table 3 compares both the size and price 
of Williams College and WPI. Note that 
the number of full-time equivalent stu- 
dents and faculty at WPI were increased 
by exactly the same proportion over the 
period shown, maintaining the student/ 
faculty ratio at a constant 15.6. At the 
same time, Williams reduced its ratio, 
no doubt contributing to the large in- 
crease in its E&G expenditures. 

Both Williams and WPI experienced 
significant increases in tuition and fees 
during the period shown. Due to its 
larger endowment, the ratio of tuition 
and fees to E&G expenditures at Wil- 
liams—an indication of how much of the 

42 SUMMER 1988 


Changes in the Components of Per Student Education and General Expenditures 

Williams and WPI 
(Constant 1976$) 

Williams College* 































Research and Public Service 







Academic Support 











Student Services 











Institutional Support 











Operations and Maintenance 











Scholarships and Fellowships 











Mandatory Transfers 











$6,174 100% $9,338 100% 51% $5,355 100% $6,996 100% 


*Inferred from summary data presented in November/December 1987 Change article. 

tHEGIS data adjusted to reflect proper attribution of costs of benefits, academic computing and endowment management. 

true cost of an education is covered by 
tuition — is lower than at WPI, even 
though Williams has a higher tuition. At 
smaller, less well-endowed liberal arts 
institutions, this ratio can reach or ex- 
ceed 90 percent. At public institutions, 
with their significant state subsidies, this 
ratio is often less than 20 percent. While 
various institutions may meet their ex- 
penses in different ways, it is important 
to understand that the underlying cost 
structures of all these institutions is re- 
markably similar. Thus the "high cost" 
of private institutions is a myth. 

The Bottom Line 

Between 1975-76 and 1985-86, average 
annual increases in E&G expenditures 
exceeded the Consumer Price Index by 

less than three percentage points at the 
institutions shown in the three tables. 
Allowing for the different "market bas- 
ket" and for the program improvements 
required to maintain a people-based or- 
ganization not subject to productivity 
improvements, three percent over the in- 
dex is not unreasonable. Interestingly, 
these E&G expenditure data alone sug- 
gest that higher education costs are 
hardly out of control, as has been al- 
leged. They may, in fact, be one of the 
better controlled costs in our society. 

Increases in tuition prices in the pri- 
vate sector have been outpacing rises in 
total per-student E&G expenditures. At 
WPI, for example, tuition and fees in- 
creased 45 percent more than inflation 
between 1975-76 and 1985-86, while 
E&G expenses rose only 31 percent. 
This average annual increase of some 
four percent in excess of the rise in the 

index does not reflect a conspiracy to 
"charge what the market will bear," but 
rather a need to cover the cost of main- 
taining and enhancing quality. Some of 
these costs had previously been borne by 
other income sources. 

It is also reassuring to note that WPI's 
tuition and fees, while high relative to 
those of even many private comprehen- 
sive universities and liberal arts col- 
leges, have been kept near the median 
rank of the 16 members of the Associa- 
tion of Independent Technological Uni- 
versities. This restraint has been main- 
tained despite the acknowledged high 
cost of the WPI Plan and an aggressive 
program of investment to improve fac- 
ulty scholarship and overall program 
quality at WPI. 

Jon C. Strauss is president of WPI. 


Comparative Size and Price 
Williams and WPI 

Williams College 








FTE Students 







FTE Faculty 







Student/Faculty Ratio 






Tuition & Fees (T&F) (1976$) 







Ratio T&F/E&G 






The Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Ninth in a Series 

Software Solutions 

No model student, Ron Howard turns skill, 

dedication and uncompromising values 

into a model of success 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

In the spring of 1974. as Ronald A. 
Howard '77 completed his first year 
at WPI. the college's faculty and 
administrators may have been ex- 
cused if they wondered whether he 
would ever amount to anything. They 
may. in fact, have wondered if he would 
ever graduate. 

"Oh. there is no doubt about it." 
Howard says today. "I was not a model 
student. The first year I passed only one 
course, so I was not too terrific. I spent 
the other three years making up for that." 
But. somewhere along the way. Ron 
Howard discovered the digital computer 
and his life was changed immeasurably. 
In the decade since he received his B.S. 
in computer science from WPI. Howard 
has turned his love affair with the com- 
puter into a highly successful software 
business. Datability Software Systems. 
Today, his company employs more than 
100 people who create and market a line 
of innovative software products that are 
tearing down the barricades that once 
separated personal computers and 

Howard's success as a programmer 
began when he was still an undergradu- 
ate. When not concentrating on class 
work, he spent countless hours at WPI's 
computer center creating programs for 
class assignments and his own enjoy- 
ment. One of his early creations was a 
computer game based on the television 

series "Star Trek." The game was an 
instant hit on campus. Even today, ver- 
sions continue to turn up on computer 
systems around the country. 

For his Major Qualifying Project, 
Howard wrote a new compiler for the 
BASIC programming language. (A com- 
piler translates the language into a code 
that the computer can then implement.) 
It was an elegant package that had many 
advantages over similar products then 
available. With a S5.000 graduation 
present from his father. Howard decided 
to put his compiler on the market. 

Working out of his apartment near the 
WPI campus. Howard made the rounds 
of local companies that had computers 
capable of using his software. But he 
began to see that "the world wasn't 
waiting for a better BASIC compiler." 

"So." he says, "I ran out of money 
pretty quickly. I called home and said. 
'Dad. I am working real hard, but I need 
more money.' He said. 'Well, come back 
to New York where I can help guide 
you.' Then I said. 'But Dad. my friends 
are up here and this is where I want to 
work.' His reply was. 'Have a good life." 
So I packed up everything and moved 
back to New York, where I was born." 

With help from his father, a successful 
entrepreneur in advertising and manu- 
facturing. Howard began shaping his ca- 
reer in the computer field. It wasn't ex- 
actly instant success, Howard says, as 

he "stumbled for a few 
years" learning the ins 
and outs of the computer 
and data processing 

"The truth is, when 
you start off, you need to 
get kicked around a little 
bit before you leam some 
of these lessons," he 
says. "I guess I was lucky to have had 
people around me who were willing to 
teach me. They would say, 'You don't 
know what you are talking about here." 
and that was what I needed to discover." 

Without a viable product to market. 
Howard began to provide consulting 
services for some of the largest banks in 
New York. It proved to be a surprisingly 
lucrative pursuit. 

"I was getting S25 an hour," he re- 
members, "and I was on top of the 
world, because what they were asking 
me to do seemed so simple. I felt like I 
was robbing them." 

Consulting for large firms that owned 
their own mainframe computers pro- 
vided Howard with another, perhaps 
more valuable, benefit. As partial pay- 
ment for his time. Howard was given 
access to the large machines for his own 
use, so he began work on new software 

"Pretty soon, this barter arrangement 
was getting out of hand because I was 

44 SUMMER 1988 

Ronald A. Howard '77, 
president of Datability 
Software Systems. 

using $30,000 to $40,000 a month in 
computer time and doing far less con- 
sulting," Howard says. "I knew that one 
day the bank was going to realize this. 
So I scraped and borrowed and bought 
my first computer." 

With a mainframe of his own, Howard 
was able to finance his software devel- 
opment work by charging other firms for 
time-sharing services. But unlike other 
time-sharing companies, which simply 
rent their computers to others, Howard 
decided to offer his clients a full range 
of computer services, from software de- 
velopment to data processing. 

"Ours was a specialty business," 
Howard notes. "We were so dedicated 
to the success of our clients, whatever 
function we were performing for them, 
that it was as if they owned us— as if we 
worked for them." 

By working around-the-clock to meet 
deadlines and taking on jobs that in- 
house programming staffs wouldn't 
touch, Howard and his company became 

indispensable to several 
large businesses. But suc- 
cess had its price. Soon, 
the mainframe was so 
tied up with time-shar- 
ing jobs that no comput- 
ing power was left for 
development work. The 
solution was to upgrade 
to a larger system. 
With ample computing resources once 
again, the focus of the company— by now 
christened Datability Software Sys- 
tems—began to change. While he was 
happy with the success of his computer 
services, Howard says he was anxious to 
get back to writing software. 

Along with Richard L. Rupp '78, a 
fellow computer science major whom 
Howard brought on board as vice presi- 
dent of Research and Development, he 
began work on what would become 
Datability's first major product: Con- 
trol, an information management sys- 
tem. Control made existing database 
management products easier to use by 
allowing a manager to custom design a 
database, right on the computer screen, 
in a matter of minutes. 

"It did this so completely, so seam- 
lessly," Howard says. "It was an incred- 
ible tool. We sold tons of it. That is 
what got us to the next level." 

The "next level" was a breakthrough 
by the name of RAF, short for Remote 

Access Facility. What Control had done 
for database management, RAF did for 
communication between personal com- 
puters and mainframes. 

Until RAF came along, the way one 
usually made a PC talk to a mainframe 
computer was to turn the PC into a 
"dumb" terminal. Unfortunately, this 
generally meant that one could not take 
advantage of all the PC's power and ver- 
satility while it was linked to the big 

RAF was a revolutionary solution to 
this problem. It created a transparent, 
interactive link between the PC and the 
mainframe and let the PC user create, 
manipulate and print mainframe files 
(and transfer data back and forth be- 
tween the PC and mainframe), just as if 
the mainframe was one of the PC's disk 

RAF was an overwhelming success. 
Another software company might have 
stopped there and rested on its laurels 
for a while, but Howard, Rupp and 
Datability began work on a new product. 
Called File Access Control Software or 
FACS, it constituted an entirely new cat- 
egory of software, Howard says. 

"It's like word processing or a spread- 
sheet product," he explains. "Once peo- 
ple see it, the concept is so clear they 
can't do without it." 

FACS organizes and controls central 
files in a large word processing, data 
management or accounting installation 
in which many personal computers are 
linked to a central computer. 

Like a software policeman, FACS sits 
on top of a computer network, recording 
who creates and edits files, controlling 
who can access them, giving each file a 
unique identity, automatically archiving 
files when they reach a designated age 
and managing a central collection of 
"boilerplates" that users can insert into 
their documents. 

"This is going to change the indus- 
try," Howard says. "First of all, there is 
nothing else like this. And it has appli- 
cations in all sorts of vertical markets, 
like the legal industry and the medical 

Introduced earlier this year, FACS is 
already taking the legal industry by 
storm, Howard says. Among the first to 
buy the new product were some of the 
nation's largest law firms. They were 
impressed, Howard says, by FACS' abil- 
ity to quickly bring order to the chaos 
often created by the thousands of letters, 
briefs, contracts and other documents a 


big firm can generate in an average 

Creating successful products like 
FACS and RAF takes a combination of 
skill and the ability to spot unfilled 
niches in the computer market, Howard 
says. He adds that luck— in particular, 
the good fortune to introduce a new 
product when the industry is ready for 
it — is not an insignificant factor. 

But Howard is quick to note that 
good products alone do not a 
good company make. 
"We don't have the attitude 
here that our company is a bunch of 
products," he says. "Our company is a 
bunch of people. You can take my prod- 
ucts away, but don't take my people 
away. If you take my products away, I'll 
have new products in a year or two. If 
you take my people away, I'll have 

Howard says he learned from his fa- 
ther that people are the key to long-last- 
ing success in business. For Datability, 
part of the formula for keeping good 
people is keeping them happy. The com- 
pany owns vacation houses in the Hamp- 
tons and the Berkshires and rents bed- 
and-breakfast inns in ski country in the 
winter, all of which are available to 

"But it's not just the money and the 
perks," Howard says. "It's saying we 
really care. It's saying that while you're 
having fun here at work and making 
good money, we also want your quality 
of life to be good. I want to be able to 
ask them for a lot, but I want them to be 
able to expect a lot in return. 

"I don't believe it's going to be nec- 
essary to change this concept. I think it 
will always be this way. And I take a lot 
of pride in that because I believe a lot of 
a company's identity depends on the 
CEO. If I'm not willing to work hard, 
work nights, I can't expect my people 
to. If they see me cleaning papers off the 
floor, I don't have to feel bad when I 
say, 'Hey, can you grab that?' or, 'Let's 
straighten that out.' As long as we have 
that attitude, I think we will prosper." 

With the success that Howard and his 
employees have wrought through their 
products and services, it may seem at 
times that Datability is that rarest of 
companies— one that can truly do no 
wrong. But Howard quickly brushes that 
notion aside. 

"There are many things that get hid- 
den by success," he says, "including all 

the bad decisions. There was a time 
when I couldn't do anything wrong, or 
at least it didn't seem I could. And yet, 
realistically, there were lots of things go- 
ing wrong." 

Howard remembers one decision that 
almost ended Datability's rise before it 
had hardly begun. While negotiating a 
contract with a major time-sharing cli- 
ent, Howard proposed some terms that 
would have made it very costly for the 

"I am truly 

driven. I want 

everything I do to 

be the 

best I can 

make it." 

client to terminate the deal. The client 
turned the tables by canceling the con- 
tract the very next day. 

"I learned very early in my career that 
that isn't the way one conducts oneself, 
and I've never done it again," he says. 
"Then I learned another valuable les- 
son: once you've lost a client, there is 
nothing that says you can't try again. I 
went back and we got the business, but 
on much more favorable terms for the 

Taking the high road in his business 
dealings is something that Howard says 
he has come to believe in fervently, and 
not only because it makes good business 
sense. Since his company is located in 
Manhattan's Garment District, just a 
short cab ride from Wall Street and its 
financial wheelers and dealers, Howard 
says he is particularly sensitive to the 
issue of ethics. 

"There's a lot of talk on Wall Street 
about a grey line and where one crosses 
it," Howard says. "I think that's a bunch 
of crap. The truth of the matter is, most 
people don't inch across a grey line, they 
jump two feet over it. When you feel it 
in your gut and you know it's wrong, 
you just don't do it. That's the way we 

"It sounds like a noble stance to take, 

but the truth of the matter is it's a com- 
bination that works. It is a freedom that 
I have. I can hold my head up. I can 
sleep at night. It's a terrific feeling." 

▼ 7f ▼hen Howard speaks of his 
m Jk /ethical beliefs, his business 

«/ m/philosophy or his entrepreneu- 

T Trial spirit, the conversation fre- 
quently turns to WPI. 

"I learned a lot of these feelings from 
the way my father raised me, but they 
also come from the WPI experience — 
and not just the academic side." 

One thing he gained from his years at 
WPI, he notes, is a passion for work. 

"You saw it everywhere at WPI," 
Howard says. "It was the chemical en- 
gineer who loved what he was doing, 
who was into his science. It was the 
computer science majors who worked 
through the night, who loved tinkering, 
trying new things, playing off each 
other. There was a passion about 

"Because of that experience, I am 
truly driven. I think that is my motivat- 
ing force. I want everything I do to be 
the best I can make it. And, I want my 
company to do the best it can." 

Howard says he sees the same quali- 
ties — the mark of WPI, so to speak— in 
his partner and long-time friend. 

"Richard Rupp is the brightest person 
I have ever met in this industry," How- 
ard says. "There may be people who are 
better electrical engineers, who may 
write better code. But he is so good in 
so many different areas. He is the glue 
of this company. To have him at the top 
with me — I couldn't ask for more." 

Howard's loyalty to his alma mater is 
reflected in many ways, from the color 
scheme of his office (maroon and grey) 
to his recent donation of equipment and 
software valued at nearly $250,000 for 
WPI's new campus computer network. 

It may be reflected most poignantly in 
the Ichabod Washburn Award— given to 
outstanding young alumni — which he re- 
ceived in 1984 and which is now proudly 
displayed near his desk, alongside his 
cherished deep-sea fishing trophies. 

"It was particularly funny my receiv- 
ing that award, considering my aca- 
demic record," Howard says with a grin 
and a note of pride in his voice. 

Ron Howard may not have been a 
model student. But, if his success in the 
last decade is any indication,, he is well 
on his way to becoming a model 

46 SUMMER 1988 


How a Landlocked College Joined the Navy 

Not since WPI opened its doors had 
classes begun so early. But World 
War II would not wait for leisurely 
summer vacations. Though the break had 
begun less than a month before, on July 
1, 1943, the new academic year got un- 
der way. 

The sense of urgency was heightened 
by a new presence on campus — the U.S. 
Navy. That summer, 45 years ago, the 
Navy established a unit of its V-12 pro- 
gram at WPI. Over the next three years, 
the unit would graduate 767 officer 

During the war, the armed services 
contracted with a number of colleges and 
universities for special training pro- 
grams. WPI was one of only 22 schools 
to provide engineering training through 
the V-12 program. The program ena- 
bled WPI to remain open during a pe- 
riod when draft boards drastically re- 
duced the student bodies of many 

"A nation at war needs engineers," 
said WPI president Wat Tyler Cluverius. 
"Stay in college until they call you." 

Cluverius, a retired rear admiral, was 
instrumental in convincing the U.S. gov- 
ernment to establish the V-12 unit at 
WPI. Now, he would see the fruits of 
his efforts. 

On that hot July day students-turned- 
sailors quickly experienced the "hurry 
up and wait" syndrome that has charac- 
terized military life through the ages. 
First they stood in line for physicals, 
then for uniforms, then to register, then 
to buy books. Through the confusion, 
Navy chiefs barked unfamiliar com- 
mands and salty terms not often heard 
among the halls of ivy. 

Many of the new sailor-scholars were 
members of WPI's classes of 1944 and 
1945. Others arrived from a half-dozen 
colleges from throughout the Northeast. 
Of the 625 students enrolled at WPI that 
year, 320 were in uniform. 

The Navy took over Sanford Riley 
Hall, then WPI's only residence hall, 
and converted the old mechanical engi- 

The WPI Journal recorded the arrival 
of the Navy's V-12 program, which 
enabled engineers to train during 
World War II. 

By Roger N. Perry Jr. 

neering building (now known as Stratton 
Hall) into military barracks. The loca- 
tion proved to have one important 

Next door the foundry (now the Pro- 
ject Center), like every other manufac- 
turing facility in the U.S., had been 
pressed into service to meet wartime 
production requirements. The soot from 
the foundry's cupola belched forth each 
day and found its way into Stratton Hall, 
where it did little to enhance the appear- 
ance of the students' white Navy uni- 
forms. A large metal "doughnut" soon 
appeared atop the stack that trapped most 
of the soot particles with a water spray. 

Since Sanford Riley had gone Navy, 
civilian freshmen found themselves fac- 
ing the problem of where to live. The 
fraternity houses, which were losing 
many members to the military, seemed 
the logical choice. During a six-hour 
Sunday afternoon rush period, freshmen 
toured the houses. At 6 p.m. they indi- 
cated their choices. An hour later, they 

moved in. Somehow it all worked. 

As the war progressed, draft boards 
began canceling engineering student de- 
ferments and the number of civilian stu- 
dents at WPI dwindled. In time, Navy 
students dominated every class and cam- 
pus activity. Still, conflicts were few. 
Much of the credit for the smooth inte- 
gration of the two groups of students 
belonged to Naval Reserve Lt. Albert J. 
Schwieger, who took a leave of absence 
from WPI's Department of Economics, 
Government and Business to head the 
college's V-12 unit. 

The infusion of new people proved a 
boon to WPI athletics. In fact, during 
the fall of 1943, WPI beat Harvard 13-0 
at football. A popular Boston sports 
writer noted that at Harvard, football was 
"informal" that season. "Football at 
Worcester Tech has always been infor- 
mal," he added, perhaps looking back to 
the 1941 and 1942 seasons when WPI 
won no games at all. 

WPI's V-12 veterans include William 
R. Grogan, current dean of undergradu- 
ate studies; Owen Kennedy, dean emer- 
itus; and associate professor emeritus 
Charles R. McNulty, who as a chief 
petty officer was assigned to WPI as a 
physical training instructor. He never 

Seven current or emeritus trustees were 
also among the ranks: Vice Chairman 
Irving J. Donahue '44, Walter J. Bank 
'46, John Lott Brown '46, William P. 
Densmore '45, Anson C. Fyler '45, John 
E. Hossack '46 and John C. Metzger, 
Jr. '45. 

The last V-12 students left campus in 
June 1946 to be replaced by returning 
World War II veterans, many of them 
former WPI students taking advantage 
of the GI Bill to complete their inter- 
rupted educations. 

Roger Perry '45 retired recently as di- 
rector of campaign communications at 
WPI. He is a retired commander in the 
Naval Reserve and served at sea in both 
World War II and the Korean War. 



Sound is Music to 
His Ears 

By Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Stephen N. Jasperson teaches the 
sound of music, but don't expect 
to find him leading a crowd of 
children dressed in folk costumes in a 
chorus of "Do Re Mi." 

Jasperson, the amiable head of WPI's 
Physics Department, is part of a trio of 
Worcester-area college professors who 
teach a yearly undergraduate seminar on 
electronic music. 

With a Ph.D. in physics from Prince- 
ton University and impressive creden- 
tials as a researcher on such topics as the 
optical properties of solids, he might be 
forgiven if he felt a little uncomfortable 
surrounded by contemporary rhythms. 
Jasperson, however, is right at home. 

"I'm involved in this area because I'm 
interested in physics and I'm also inter- 
ested in music," he says. "A big chunk 
of that small portion of time I spend in 
nonprofessional activities is directed to 
things musical. I sing in the Worcester 
Chorus and I play the piano a bit." 

But even more, Jasperson notes, he is 
deeply interested in the physics of sound. 

"Sound is something we all take for 
granted," Jasperson says. "Unless 
something happens to our sense of hear- 
ing, we don't think twice about it. There 
are sounds all around us. We communi- 
cate with sounds. We use sound to de- 
tect if something is going wrong with 
our car or appliance. My interest is in 
the things that are fundamental to the 
nature of sound and to its production and 
perception. I like to tell my students: 'I 
hope you never hear sound the same way 

Because of his orientation, Jasperson 
teaches the scientific aspects of the 
course. The musical perspective is im- 
parted by Wesley Fuller, associate pro- 
fessor of music at Clark University, and 
Shirish Korde, chairman of the music 

department at the College of the Holy 

More than a decade ago, the three 
joined forces to form the Tri-College 
Group for Electronic Music, which not 
only offers the course, but obtains grants 
to purchase equipment and sponsors an 
annual concert featuring compositions by 
Korde and Fuller. 

Jasperson and Fuller began teaching 
the seminar after each independently de- 
veloped an interest in electronic music 
in the early 1970s. Jasperson was drawn 
to the technical challenge of creating 
sounds electronically. His interest grew 
as he began to advise students who 
wanted to build electronic circuits to 
synthesize sound. 

Later, Jasperson learned about Fuller, 
who, having attended a summer course 
on computer-generated music at Colgate 
University, had decided to try his hand 
at composing for electronic instruments. 

"We began collaborating on a course 
to overcome our respective areas of ig- 
norance," Jasperson says. 

Not long after the course got off the 
ground, Jasperson learned of WPI alum- 
nus Alan R. Pearlman '48, an electrical 
engineer who had helped found ARP In- 
struments, a Boston-based maker of 
electronic synthesizers. 

"We got in touch with Alan and 
learned that he was preparing to donate 
some synthesizers to the college," Jas- 
person says. Pearlman ultimately gave 
WPI four machines, including an ARP 
2600, which was then being used by 
many preeminent performing and re- 
cording artists. 

Today, thanks to the efforts of the Tri- 
College Group, there are electronic mu- 
sic studios at all three colleges. The 

Physics Department Head Stephen 
N. Jasperson seated in WPI's elec- 
tronic music laboratory in Olin Hall. 

48 SUMMER 1988 

group members also share equipment, as 

WPI's studio occupies part of a labo- 
ratory in Olin Hall, WPI's physics 
building. In addition to an ARP synthe- 
sizer, there is a Yamaha digital synthe- 
sizer, a four-track tape recorder and a 
Macintosh Plus computer, among other 
equipment. The lab is staffed several 
hours each week and is available to stu- 
dents for pleasure as well as education, 
Jasperson says. 

The equipment in the WPI lab spans 
the history of modern electronic music. 
The ARP machine is an analog synthe- 
sizer. To play it, one uses patch cords to 
build circuits, much like an operator 
linking callers on an old fashioned 
switchboard. With the circuits one cre- 
ates and modifies electronic waveforms 
that are analogs of the desired sound. 
The computer is the most modern way 
of making sounds electronically. The 
computer software represents waveforms 
numerically, converting them to electri- 
cal waveforms only as a final step. 

In his portion of the Tri-College 
course, Jasperson uses analog and digi- 
tal instruments, along with laboratory 
equipment that can analyze and visually 
represent sound, to give students a 
grounding in the physics of the sounds 
that emanate from synthesizers. 

"Electronic music has two sides: mu- 
sic and technology," he says. "You are 
limited in what you can do if you aren't 
knowledgeable in both areas. The more 
one knows about the physical attributes 
of sound, the more successfully one can 
synthesize specific sounds by electronic 

And, Jasperson says, the more one 
knows about sound the more one can 
appreciate music in general. His own 
tastes run toward classical music rather 
than modern rock, though he says he 
tries to keep an open mind when it comes 
to sound. 

"There's invariably something inter- 
esting to find in all sound," he says. "I 
really try to enjoy it all." 

George E 



Lt WPI, informationsciences— process 
transferring and using information— plays 
increasingly significant role in the education! 
every student and the teaching and research hf 
every faculty member. \ 

In fact, the ability to create and manage infor- 
mation will largely determine the success of 
tomorrow's scientists and engineers as well as 
the vitality of high technology and the entire 
American enterprise. 

Today, WPI is taking a major step toward 
accommodating its growing needs in computer 
science, faculty scholarship, and academic and 
administrative computing. Construction of the 
George F. Fuller Laboratories will bring under 
one roof the expanding initiatives of the 
Department of Computer Science, while free- 
ing up much needed space elsewhere on cam- 
pus for programs in electrical and mechanical 
engineering, the humanities, and the Institute's 
library collections. 

*i -ftu^ 

■ Situated among Atwater Kent Labs, Gordon 
Library and Kaven Hall, the 53,000 square foot 
facility will house advanced undergraduate 
teaching labs and dedicated research space in 
computer science, materially enhancing this 
growing program and helping the Institute in 
perhaps its most competitive field of faculty 

Some 70 professors and support staff will have 
office space in Fuller. And the centers for aca- 
demic and administrative computing will find 
new homes there, creating greater synergy and 
keeping service costs to a minimum. 

Finally, the Instructional Media Center will 
move to Fuller, and a multi-purpose, 400-seat 
lecture hall will fill a gap long felt on campus. 

The key physical facilities project in WPI's 
current $525-million Campaign for Excellence, 

Fuller Labs is the first academic building cod 
structed at the Institute since 1967. Since their 
five of the campus's six original buildings he- 
been fully renovated to accommodate the lata! 
educational imperatives. 

To the late George F. Fuller, the pursuits 
embodied in the Labs would have delighted | 
the inventive genius of this former president i 
Wyman Gordon Co. and, for 29 years, a trusteJ 
of WPI. 

Aided significantly by a grant of $2 million 
from the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundi 
Hon, together with a challenge grant from the 
Kresge Foundation and the support of many 
other donors, in constructing Fuller Labs WP 
is enabling student and faculty scholars to 
reach for the future as never before. 

You, too, can play a part in this exciting future 

Support the Campaign for Excellence 



/Pi's Space Program 

ending Schools a Helping Hand 



& 1 

A wintry scene frames the tower of the Washburn Shops." 
Robert S. Arnold. Black-and-white 8-by-10-inch prints of this phot 
are available; send $10 to WPI Journal, 100 Institute Road, 
Worcester, MA 01609-2280. 


WINTER 1989 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael 
W. Dorsey • Alumni Information Editor, Ruth 
S. Trask 

Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel 
Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Geary '71 

• James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue, 
SIM '82 • William J. Firla, Jr. '60 • Maureen 
Sexton Horgan '83 • Carl A. Keyser '39 

• Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. 

The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is pub- 
lished quarterly for the WPI Alumni Associ- 
ation by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 
cooperation with the Alumni Magazine Con- 
sortium, with editorial offices at the Johns 
Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218. 
Pages I-XVI are published for the Alumni 
Magazine Consortium [Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, Villanova University, Western Mary- 
land College, Western Reserve College (Case 
Western Reserve University), Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute] and appear in the re- 
spective alumni magazines of those institu- 
tions. Second class postage paid at Worces- 
ter, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Pages 1-16, 33-48 ® 1988, Worcester Poly- 
technic Institute. Pages I-XVI ® 1988, Johns 
Hopkins University. 

Staff of the Alumni Magazine Consor- 
tium: Editor, Donna Shoemaker • Wrap De- 
signer and Production Coordinator, Cecily 
Roberts • Assistant Editor, Sue DePasquale • 
Consulting Editors, Alan Sea and Elise Han- 
cock • Core Designers, Allen Carroll and 
Cecily Roberts. 

Advisory Board of the Alumni Magazine 
Consortium: Johns Hopkins University, B.J. 
Norris and Alan Sea • Villanova University, 
Eugene J. Ruane and D.M. Howe • Western 
Maryland College, Joyce Muller and Sherri 
Kimmel Diegel • Western Reserve College, 
David C. Twining • Worcester Polytechnic 
Institute, Michael Dorsey. 

Acknowledgments: Typesetting, BG Com- 
position, Inc.; Printing, American Press, Inc. 

Diverse views on subjects of public interest are 
presented in the magazine. These views do not 
necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or 
official policies of WPI. Address correspon- 
dence to the Editor, The WPI Journal, Worces- 
ter Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609- 
2280. Telephone (508)831-5616. Postmaster: If 
undeliverable please send form 3579 to the ad- 
dress above. Do not return publication. 


3 Out Of this World Michael W. Dorsey 

Student projects and faculty research are launching WPI 
into the Space Age. 

10 Growing Crystals in the Final Michael w. Dorsey 

Research team's dream of record-size zeolites rides on a 
new NASA laboratory. 

14 From Lindbergh to Sputnik Roger N. Perry Jr. 

Kenneth Merriam's aero option spanned the history of 
modern aviation. 

/ Ode to the Eighties 

Well-versed in wit? Enter our limerick contest. 

// The Smart Assembly Line Sue De Pasquale 

Non-contact testing could transform manufacturing. 

IX The Long Wait for a New Life Lavinia Edmunds 

There aren't enough donated organs to go around. 

Page 3 


Wr * , 

Michael V. Shanley 

33 Confronting a Crisis in our 

A new WPI center is helping public schools get kids 
excited about science and math. 

43 The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Amy Zuckerman 

Seizing the Day 

Gerald Finkle's formula for success is simple: make the 
most of opportunities. 


2 Advance Word: a prelude to space. 

47 Explorations: Stellar performances; making math easier. 

48 Final Word: The Magnetic Lab keeps its secrets. Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Page II 

Page 33 

Cover: Albert Sacco Jr. , professor of chemical engineering, 
heads a WPI research team that is designing a zeolite crystal 
growth experiment for a new NASA space laboratory. Story 
on page 10. Photo by Robert S. Arnold. 

Wpi Journal 1 


A Prelude to Space 

The age of rocketry was launched by 
WPVs most famous graduate 

Like the Wright Brothers, who com- 
pleted their historic first powered 
flight less than a year before he 
enrolled at WPI, Robert H. Goddard had 
a vision of freeing mankind from the 
bounds of Earth. But while the Wrights 
mastered the air, Goddard dreamed of con- 
quering space and the universe beyond. 
While the rockets he built in later years 
never climbed beyond the atmosphere, his 
work made the Space Age possible. 

During his four years at WPI, Goddard 
laid the groundwork for his seminal career. 
He was an exceptional student, one who 
kept his professors on their toes with prob- 
ing questions about physics, chemistry, 
physiology and engineering. He showed a 
notable proclivity for invention, devising, 
for a class theme, a plan for a magnetic 
train that would travel thousands of miles 
an hour through an evacuated tube. Later, 
he published in Scientific American what 
is thought to be the first proposal for the 

use of gyroscopes to stabilize airplanes. 

And, he filled countless notebooks with 
informed speculations on space travel. He 
wondered, for example, about a propulsion 
system that might lift a man free of the 
pull of the Earth's gravity, about systems 
that might support life outside of the at- 
mosphere, about methods for slowing a 
speeding spacecraft so it could land on 
another world, and about techniques that 
might suspend human life on long space 

At WPI, Goddard took several giant 
steps on a journey that had begun years 
earlier with a vision, experienced while he 
trimmed limbs from a cherry tree behind 
the family barn in 1898. He imagined a 
device that could travel from Earth to 
Mars. The realization of that vision would 
take him to a field at his Aunt Effie's farm 
in Auburn, Mass., on March 16, 1926. 

There, on a cold afternoon, he launched 
the world's first successful liquid-fueled 

Robert H. Goddard '08 in 1926 with the first successful liquid-fueled rocket. 

rocket, which rose 41 feet and traveled 184 
feet from its launching frame. The event 
was to signal the beginning of the Space 
Age just as clearly as the Wright Brothers' 
first flight had heralded the age of flight. 
(Goddard would later compare the two 
events proudly, noting that the Wright 
Brothers had managed to fly their craft just 
120 feet at an altitude of a mere four feet.) 

Before turning to liquid-fueled rockets, 
Goddard, then a professor at Clark Univer- 
sity, worked on prototypes of a "machine- 
gun" rocket that would be propelled by 
firing cartridges filled with explosive pow- 
der. Some tests were carried out in WPI's 
Magnetic Laboratory (page 48). 

Like many pioneers, Goddard received 
little recognition during his lifetime. How- 
ever, as the lure of space captivated the 
U.S. after World War II, it became appar- 
ent that through his work, as well as his 
keenly perceptive ruminations on space 
travel, Goddard had not just launched the 
Space Age, but had been an amazingly 
accurate prophet of its achievements. 

Recognition did come eventually. Con- 
gress ordered a special gold medal struck 
to honor his work. He received, posthu- 
mously, the rarely-awarded Langley Medal 
for his achievements in aerodynamics. The 
American Rocket Society and the Ameri- 
can Institute of Aeronautics and Astronau- 
tics named awards in his honor. 

Goddard professorships have been cre- 
ated at a number of American universities 
and Clark University named its library for 
him. WPI named its chemistry and chem- 
ical engineering building (a gift of the EW. 
01 in Foundation) for Goddard, as well 
as an alumni award for professional 

The most notable structure to bear God- 
dard 's name is NASA's Goddard Space 
Flight Center, dedicated in 1961. exactly 
35 years after Goddard's first liquid-fueled 
rocket rose from the field in Auburn, 
Mass. The center, covering 500 acres and 
employing some 2,000 people, buzzes with 
advanced research on space flight systems. 
It is, perhaps, the most fitting tribute to a 
man who took space travel from the pages 
of science fiction and made it a reality. 

Through student projects and scholarly research, 
WPI is building its own "space program }> 

^^^t ne morning last September, the 
^^HB space shuttle Discovery sat qui- 
^m ^m etly on launch pad 39-B at the 
^^^m Kennedy Space Center. Swathed 
^^^^in clouds of vapor, the 12-story 
space plane was poised to rocket into orbit, 
ending a two-year hiatus in the American 
manned space program. 

At WPI, students and faculty hovered 
near television sets and waited as unusu- 
ally calm high-altitude winds delayed the 
launch into the early afternoon. When the 
shuttle finally rose on a roiling pillar of 
flame, tense observers all over campus 
urged it on, quietly willing the spacecraft 
into orbit. 

For many of those faculty members and 

students, the successful launch of Discov- 
ery represented more than America's re- 
turn to space. The resumption of the shut- 
tle program was a long-awaited shot in the 
arm for WPI's own space program. 

During the last six years, hundreds of 
undergraduates, some 30 faculty members 
and several graduate students have labored 
on projects and experiments which focus, 
in one way or another, on the conquest of 
space. More than 250 students have de- 
signed and built experiments that will fly 
into orbit in the cargo bay of the Discovery 
or one of its two sister shuttles. 

The projects will occupy the five cubic 
feet of space inside of an aluminum cylin- 
der known as a Getaway Special Canister 

or GASCAN. GASCANs were created by 
NASA to offer universities and corpora- 
tions an inexpensive route to space. 

WPI's first GASCAN was ready to fly 
soon after the ill-fated final flight of the 
shuttle Challenger and is now expected to 
go aloft as early as the end of this year. 
Another set of GASCAN experiments is in 
development and should be ready for 
launch in a few years. 

Had the GASCAN project program done 
nothing more than open a brief window on 
space for WPI, it would have been a tre- 
mendous success. But it has accomplished 
far more than that. Just as the space pro- 
gram itself generated a myriad of spinoffs, 
WPI's first steps into space have set in 

Y }* M * 

Wpi Journal 

(Left to right) Robert C. Labonte '54, WPI President Jon C. Strauss, MITRE's William 
Zimmer, Dino Roberti '85 and William W. Durgin, professor of mechanical engineering, at a 
contract signing ceremony for GASCAN II in 1985. 

motion a host of sophisticated research ef- 
forts and student projects, some of which 
may see WPI return to space many times 
in the years ahead. It has helped vitalize a 
renewed undergraduate aerospace engi- 
neering concentration. And, it has earned 
WPI a respected niche in the space re- 
search community. 

rhe lecture hall was crowded as Wil- 
liam Zimmer, associate technical 
director at MITRE Corporation, a 
nonprofit federal contract research center 
in Bedford, Mass., stood before an atten- 
tive group of WPI faculty members in the 
fall of 1982. Zimmer and Robert C. 
Labonte '54, associate department head at 
MITRE, had come to make WPI an offer. 
MITRE had purchased a GASCAN from 
NASA and was willing to let WPI's faculty 
and students fill it with experiments. 
MITRE also included a $20,000 grant to 
WPI to help defray the cost of developing 
the experiments. It was, in effect, free pas- 
sage aboard a future shuttle mission for up 
to 200 pounds of WPI cargo. 

"While MITRE works extensively with 
the technical side of NASA's business," 
Labonte says, explaining the corporation's 
rationale for donating the shuttle ride to 
WPI, "we are less familiar with its opera- 
tional side. We knew that if we could be 
involved with a GASCAN, even indirectly, 
it would allow us to develop a working re- 
lationship with NASA's operations people." 
Zimmer and Labonte found an enthusi- 
astic crowd that included Fred J. Looft, 

associate professor of electrical engineer- 
ing. Looft was familiar with the work that 
goes into a space experiment. His father 
designed and tested rockets at the NASA 
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland. As a 
Ph.D. candidate at the University of Mi- 
chigan, Looft had helped build a human 
physiology experiment for NASA's Space 
Lab. And he had applied to become a mis- 
sion specialist in the shuttle program. 

"I stood up and said, 'Don't worry about 
the money. We have an offer on the table. 
If we pass it up, we'll never get another 
one like it,' " Looft remembers. 

Francis C. Lutz, professor of civil engi- 
neering and associate dean of undergradu- 
ate studies, saw in the MITRE proposal 
the potential for a program that could pay 
multiple dividends for WPI. 

"I knew it would be expensive and take 
several years, but the educational advan- 
tages were just superior," he says. "It 
would require experimental work that con- 
tinues from year to year, where students 
build on the progress of other students and 
where students from different disciplines 
work together to complete working exper- 

Within a few months, Zimmer and then 
WPI president Edmund T. Cranch put their 
signatures on a contract and the WPI/ 
MITRE Space Shuttle Program was born. 


rom the start, competition was a 
driving force in the WPI shuttle 
program. The first group of stu- 
dents was selected from a pool of appli- 

cants through a competitive 
process. They rolled up their 
sleeves and began work on 12 
experiments, knowing full well 
that fewer than half would ever 
fly on the shuttle. 

During the next several 
years, dozens of student teams 
completed their Major Quali- 
fying Projects (MQPs) as the 
experiments moved from de- 
signs to initial mock-ups to 
working prototypes to flight- 
ready hardware. Along the way, 
some projects, having run into 
hurdles or dead ends, fell by 
the wayside. 

These included a solid-state 
camera for studying Earth re- 
sources, a fiber-optic ring gy- 
roscope to measure the rotation 
rate of objects in space and an 
engine driven by the tendency 
of a nickel-titanium alloy 
known as nitinol to change 
shape with changes in temperature. 

Four experiments survived the final cut 
(see illustration, next page). One will at- 
tempt to grow large zeolite crystals (page 
10). Another will study the behavior of 
fluids in microgravity. A third, called the 
Environmental Data Acquisition System, will 
record information about sound, light, tem- 
perature and pressure within the GASCAN. 
The fourth will measure the acceleration 
of the shuttle along three axes with a high 
degree of precision. 

Another experiment, this one designed 
by Looft and his young neighbor, Clay 
Rives, now an eighth-grade student in the 
Worcester Public Schools, will determine 
how solar radiation fogs photographic film 
beyond the protection of the Earth's 

Other project teams developed devices 
to record and decode data from the exper- 
iments as well as a structure onto which 
the experiments, recording devices, power 
supplies, batteries and other support 
equipment would be bolted. 

The structure's initial design was com- 
pleted by Joel K. Kearns '84, who is now 
a program manager at NASA headquarters 
in Washington, D.C. Another student, 
Thomas W. Broderick '84, spent many 
painstaking hours at a computer terminal 
completing a finite element analysis of the 
structure to prove that it could meet NASA 
standards. Finally, the structure, as well as 
cases for the experiments and other equip- 
ment, were constructed by technicians at 

Winter 1989 

rry this experiment: pull on a pair of 
bulky gloves and try to thread a nee- 
dle. The frustration you feel will 
give you an idea of the difficulty astro- 
nauts experience as they try to do work in 
modern space suits. In 1983, NASA chal- 
lenged U.S. college students to design a 
better space glove. 

Several schools submitted proposed de- 
signs, but NASA selected just four for fur- 
ther development. Among them was a de- 
sign created by students at WPI. Working 
on their MQPs, nine students built and 
tested a working prototype, a process that 
required more than eight months. In the 
spring of 1985 the students traveled to 
Washington with eight faculty advisors to 
present the design to a panel of judges. 

"That was quite an exciting thing, to 
actually have students go to Washington to 
compete in a design competition," remem- 
bers William W Durgin, professor of me- 
chanical engineering and lead advisor for 
the team. 

WPI did not win the design award, but 
the experience, along with the enthusiasm 
generated by the growing WPI/ 
MITRE Space Shuttle Program, helped 
fuel a surging interest in aerospace engi- 
neering at the college. That was good news 
for Durgin, who had recently helped launch 
and now directed a new aerospace option 
at WPI, which had not offered an "aero" 
concentration for nearly a quarter of a cen- 
tury (page 16). 

"We envisioned a program that would 
serve about 20 students per year," says 
Durgin, an expert in fluid mechanics who 
spent 12 years at the Alden Research Lab- 
oratory in Holden, Mass., as a research 
engineer before moving to the WPI cam- 
pus. "We had no way of knowing how 
popular it would become." 

The first year about 14 students selected 
the option, Durgin remembers. But the 
program's popularity quickly grew. In 
time, nearly half of the new mechanical 
engineering majors were choosing the aer- 
ospace concentration. 

"This is not a phenomenon unique to 
WPI," Durgin says. "Interest in aerospace 
engineering is skyrocketing at many engi- 
neering colleges." 

In part, Durgin says, this is due to the 
promise of new jobs in a field that virtu- 
ally collapsed when the Apollo program 
ended in the mid-1970s. But there seems 
to be something else behind the trend. 

"The last Apollo astronaut walked on 
the moon in 1972," Durgin says. "Few of 
these kids remember that. They've grown 
up with the shuttle, but they've also seen 

The photographs on this page depict 
the interior of WPI's GASCAN I, a 
set of experiments and associated 
hardware that will fly on a space 
shuttle. The structure is three feet 
high and 18 inches in diameter and 
weighs about 170 pounds. Shown in 
this photo are the: (1) Environmental 
Data Acquisition System (EDAS), (2) 
battery compartment, (3) data re- 
corder for EDAS, (4) side supports 
for mating with outer canister, (5) 
zeolite crystal growth experiment, 
(6) pressure relief valves for battery 

Seen in this second view are the: (7) 
temperature sensor for EDAS (other 
sensors located in the GASCAN feed 
information about pressure, sound 
and light to EDAS), (8) data record- 
ers for the fluid behavior experi- 
ment, (9) fluid behavior experiment: 
wetting fluid cylinder, (10) fluid be- 
havior experiment: nonwetting cylin- 
der, (11) power distribution control 
hardware, (12) temperature control- 
ler for the zeolite crystal growth 

In this third view are seen the: (13) 
power converter for the fluid behav- 
ior experiment, (14) over-pressure 
vent lines for the battery compart- 
ment, (15) film fogging experiment 
(other film holders are located in 
other spots and in other orientations 
in the GASCAN), (16) controller for 
the fluid behavior experiment, (17) 
triaxial precision accelerometer. The 
GASCAN structure seen here will be 
delivered to NASA shortly before 
launch to be inserted into an exter- 
nal aluminum canister. 

Wpi Journal 

the Russians establish a per- 
manent presence in space. The 
Russians have launched new 
Mars probes; they have a 
launch capability that far ex- 
ceeds ours; they have a suc- 
cessful space station. Maybe 
we are seeing the younger gen- 
eration rising to the occasion 
where we failed." 

To support a growing aero- 
space program, WPI faculty 
must provide a steady stream 
of ideas for projects in aero- 
nautics and space studies. A 
limited number is available 
through the WPI/MITRE Space 
Shuttle Program, but not 
enough to serve dozens of aero 
majors. Fortunately, in 1986, 
NASA provided some help. 

After the success of the space 
glove competition, the agency 
decided to foster further inter- 
action between NASA and uni- 
versities. The result was a new 
program administered by NA- 
SA's University Space Re- 
search Association (USRA), 
which gives undergraduates the 
opportunity to work on ad- 
vanced engineering design pro- 
jects related to missions that 
NASA hopes to launch within 
the next three decades. 

"The center is NASA's re- 
sponse to concern among 
members of the engineering 
community that higher educa- 
tion in engineering focuses on 
engineering science at the ex- 
pense of engineering design," 
Durgin notes. 

NASA's interest in design 
proved an excellent match for 
WPI's own commitment to 
maintain a strong emphasis on 
design in the undergraduate 
curriculum, according to Frank 

"We wanted the undergrad- 
uate projects program to have 
an emphasis center in engi- 
neering design— the kind of interdiscipli- 
nary decision making, with all of its trade- 
offs, that has to take place for one to de- 
sign workable experiments," he says. 

Through the USRA, WPI received more 
than $20,000 to establish an Advanced 
Space Design (Project) Center (ASDC), 
affiliated with NASA's Johnson Space 
Flight Center. The ASDC is a focal point 

Andrea D. Gallant '85 was a member of a team of WPI students that designed and built a 
prototype of a new space glove for a design competition sponsored by NASA in 1983. The 
WPI glove had clips on the palm and a loop around the thumb to control ballooning and 
improve an astronaut's ability to grip objects. 

for a wide range of projects on advanced 
space missions, lunar and planetary explo- 
ration, the utilization of extraterrestial re- 
sources and other areas of concern to 

One recent project being completed by 
Mark A. D'Angelo, Richard L. Lupien, 
Brian E. Perry, Matthew S. Sudbay and 
Michael A. Vidal, all seniors majoring in 

mechanical engineering, addresses the 
challenge of refueling spacecraft in orbit. 
Many new satellites are designed to have 
their propellant tanks refilled to extend 
their working lives. The students, advised 
by Durgin, are designing a system to make 
this possible. 

Helping to advise the students is Peter J. 
Bloznalis, a graduate student in mechani- 

WlNTER 1989 

(Top) Richard L.P. Custer (left) and George Y. Jumper Jr. observe a test run of a microgravity 
ignition experiment under development for GASCAN II. (Bottom) Randall Briggs '86 holds a 
sample of ilmenite, an ore found in abundance on the Moon and which may one day be mined 
as a source of oxygen. 

cal engineering who is conducting his 
master's work in the area of satellite refu- 
eling. Bloznalis is also employed by the 
ASDC to assist undergraduates working on 
aerospace projects and to serve as a liaison 
between the students and NASA. 

Another MQP, conducted by Jeffrey S. 
Goldmeer '89, and David P. Smith '89, and 
advised by George Y. Jumper Jr. , associate 

professor of mechanical engineering, helps 
students better understand orbital mechan- 
ics by displaying on a computer screen a 
visual representation of an orbit once a set 
of parameters is entered. The program also 
demonstrates how to change orbits and ren- 
dezvous with an orbiting object. 

This summer Goldmeer, who has been 
accepted as a graduate student in mechan- 

ical engineering at WPI and will succeed 
Bloznalis as the ASCD advisor, will spend 
10 weeks at the Johnson Space Flight Cen- 
ter, along with Stacy J. Cotton '90 and 
Stephen L. Anderson '90, working on ad- 
vanced space projects. WPI student teams 
work at Johnson each summer as part of 
the ASDC program. 

Other MQPs in aerospace engineering 
have ranged from designs for new air- 
planes and spacecraft to thermal analyses 
of the two GASCANS to a study of artifi- 
cial intelligence applications in space ad- 
vised by Michael Gennert, assistant pro- 
fessor of computer science. 

Through the ASDC, many students are 
also completing a wide range of Interactive 
Qualifying Projects (IQPs), in which they 
explore the intersection of science, tech- 
nology and society. Some recent examples 
have included an analysis of the potential 
impact of international space treaty nego- 
tiations and space law proposals on future 
NASA missions (advised by John F. Zeug- 
ner, professor of history), the 
identification of critical technol- 
ogies needed for future space 
exploration (advised by Dur- 
gin, Fred Looft and Albert 
Sacco Jr. , professor of chemi- 
cal engineering) and a study of 
the sociology of long-duration 
space travel and its implication 
for the design of future manned 
spacecraft (advised by Susan 
Vernon-Gerstenfeld, visiting 
lecturer, Division of Interdisci- 
plinary Affairs, and Robert W. 
Thompson, professor of chem- 
ical engineering). 

An ongoing IQP has kept 
WPI and a growing off-campus 
constituency informed about 
the progress of WPI's aero- 
space endeavors. Called the 
Technical Communications 
Team, the IQP effort has, since 
the beginning of the space 
shuttle project effort, produced 
an informative periodical, now 
known as the Advanced Space 
Design Journal. The team also 
maintains a computer database 
on space research for the WPI community. 
Another space-related IQP served as the 
launching pad for a research program that 
may aid NASA's long-range plans to build 
lunar bases. In the project, Randall Briggs 
'86 took a look at how such bases may 
contaminate the moon. In the process, he 
became interested in just what a moon out- 
post might be set up to accomplish. One 

Wpi Journal 

likely focus identified by NASA is the pro- 
duction of oxygen. 

"It has been estimated that in the early 
21st century, 40 percent of all the cargo 
shipped into space from Earth will be fuel 
and oxygen for rockets in low earth orbit," 
Briggs notes. "Because of the low gravity 
on the Moon, one can send oxygen 240,000 
miles back to Earth orbit with l/20th the 
energy needed to launch it from Earth." 

Briggs decided io complete an MQP with 
Albert Sacco, his IQP advisor, on methods 
of extracting oxygen from ilmenite, an 
iron-titanium ore that is abundant in lunar 
soil. The MQP, completed with $1,500 
from NASA's Johnson Space Flight Cen- 
ter, produced promising results. 

Currently Briggs is working as a gradu- 
ate student with Sacco on a technique in 
which the ilmenite is pretreated with oxy- 
gen. Preoxidation, Briggs says, seems to 
make ilmenite give up its own oxygen more 
readily. The work has received nearly 
$100,000 in NASA funding over the past 
two years. 

rhe morning of January 28. 1986 was 
a cold one by Florida standards. But 
the silent crowd at the Kennedy 
Space Center barely noticed the chill. 
Above them in the sky, in a hideous Y- 
shaped trail of smoke, was written the end 
of an era in the American space program. 

News of the Challenger disaster spread 
quickly across the WPI campus that morn- 
ing. One student who took it hard was 
Dino Roberti '85, now a Ph.D. candidate 
in electrical engineering. Roberti had 
worked on the GASCAN's fluid behavior 
experiment and was completing the job of 
pulling the pieces of the GASCAN to- 
gether and making them work. 

It had been a difficult task, one marked 
by long hours and deadlines that some- 
times pushed his own graduate work to the 
back burner. But the GASCAN was ready. 
In a few months, it was hoped, it would 
be rocketing into orbit. All that changed 
on that cold January morning. 

"When you've spent three years on a 
project, you have an interest, in your heart, 
in seeing it work," he says. "That's why 
this setback was so disappointing. Hope- 
fully we'll get another chance this year." 

Roberti's work on the fluid experiment 
had been a stepping stone to his graduate 
studies. The experiment presented an in- 
teresting puzzle: how do you determine the 
quantity of the fluid in a tank in the ab- 
sence of gravity? On Earth, the challenge 
is simple: place a stick in the tank and 
measure the level. In space, though, fluids 

tend to form small drops that float about 
or adhere to the tank's lining. 

The experiment consists of cylinders 
containing either a wetting fluid (which 
tends to adhere to surfaces) or a non- 
wetting fluid. Ultrasonic sensors, devel- 
oped in part by Roberti, scan the interior 
of the tanks and measure the thickness of 
the liquid film. For his master's thesis, 
Roberti developed a more refined ultra- 
sonic fuel gauge that measures the voids 
in the fuel tank. By adding up the volumes 
of the voids, the volume of the fuel can be 
determined by simple subtraction. 

#n late 1985, MITRE's William Zim- 
mer and Robert Labonte again sat 
down to sign a contract with WPI. 
This one gave WPI its second ticket into 
space and a second grant of $20,000. In 
short order, work began on a new set of 
projects for what was dubbed GASCAN n. 

"GASCAN I was a wonderful success 
for MITRE," says Labonte, who had man- 
aged the day-to-day liaison between 
MITRE and WPI and served as an advisor 
to some of the GASCAN I projects. "We 
wanted to develop a closer relationship 
with WPI and its faculty. We also wanted 
to become more visible as an employer to 
WPI students. We were achieving these 
goals. For this reason, Bill Zimmer felt it 
would be an excellent idea to continue the 
program with a second GASCAN." 

"MITRE had made a major commit- 
ment of funds and resources to WPI with 
GASCAN I," Frank Lutz adds. "They 
provided significant monetary support, in 
addition to the cost of the GASCAN, and 
they lent us the expertise of their technical 
staff as reviewers and advisors. We were 
glad that they found the effort rewarding 
enough to continue." 

While GASCAN II would also be a com- 
petitive program, the pool of experiments 
was smaller, by design, Looft notes. 

"With the second GASCAN we tried to 
pick experiments that were, first and fore- 
most, educationally meaningful," he says. 
"After that, we made sure the projects 
were scientifically meaningful." 

The projects include an ionospheric 
propagation experiment, advised by Looft, 
that will study a phenomenon known as 
ducting, in which radio waves between 10 
and 20 megahertz bounce between layers 
of the ionosphere, traveling for great dis- 
tances without attenuation before they re- 
turn to Earth. The experiment will monitor 
the strength of a radio signal known as 
WWV, a world time standard, and corre- 
late it with the density of the ion layers 

8 Winter 1989 

ferent speeds, varying levels of 
gravity can be simulated. Ul- 
trasonic sensors will detect the 
formation of vortices. 

Another GASCAN II experi- 
ment will look at a problem 
that is of great interest to 
NASA: fire in space. On Earth, 
gravity determines how a flame 
forms and spreads. Hot air ris- 
ing from a flame takes com- 
bustion products away from a 
fire and allows fresh oxygen to 
feed the flame. Without grav- 
ity, hot air doesn't rise. How 
will this affect the time it takes 
for a fire to start? 
Students, working with ad- 
s ■ visors Richard L.P. Custer, as- 
sociate director of WPI's Cen- 
i^^ ter for Firesafety Studies, and 
George Jumper, an expert in 
heat transfer who spent 21 
years as an aerospace re- 
_ searcher with the U.S. Air 
z Force, are developing an ex- 
^ periment to answer this ques- 
8 tion. The experiment consists 
g of four chambers in which in- 
8 tense lamps will heat small 


(Top) Fred J. Looft (left) and Dino Roberti '85 with GASCAN I. (Left) William W. 
Durgin (right) and Peter J. Bloznalis with prototype experiments for GASCAN II. 
(Above) A student team shows off an early version of the microgravity ignition 
experiment after a presentation at MITRE in 1986. 

through which the shuttle flies. 

GASCAN II will also include what is 
thought to be the first study of the forma- 
tion of vortices under varying levels of 
| gravity. The experiment, advised by Looft 
H and Durgin, who is also technical advisor 
g for the entire GASCAN II effort, consists 
o of a fluid chamber mounted on a rotating 
g platform. By spinning the platform at dif- 

samples of a paper-like material. Sensors 
will monitor the heat absorbed by the sam- 
ples and detect the exact moment when 
they begin to burn. The time-to-ignition in 
space will be compared to trials on Earth. 
While the experiment will answer one 
important question in space-based fire 
safety, many others remain to be explored, 
Custer says. In 1986, NASA provided 

WPI's firesafety center with funds to con- 
duct a feasibility study for additional re- 
search. In addition, the agency has funded 
studies on safety issues that corporations 
may perceive as barriers to the use of the 
U.S. space station. The study is being con- 
ducted by Custer and John M. Wilkes, as- 
sociate professor of social science and pol- 
icy studies. 

#n 1982, as the initial GASCAN pro- 
gram was beginning, space research 
was rare at WPI. Today, work related 
to space can be found in virtually every 
corner of the campus. 

"It was clear in the early 1980s that WPI 
was at a point where it was appropriate to 
reemphasize scholarship and research," 
says Frank Lutz. "That meant that if our 
project program was to continue to have 
the full support of the faculty, it would 
have to provide opportunities to blend fac- 
ulty research with the student projects the 
faculty would advise over the next decade 
or so. That is why the space shuttle pro- 
gram was so attractive." 

The program also provided insights into 
how to make student projects more useful 
to students. Ann Garvin, director of aca- 
demic advising, says the program pointed 
out the value of having students make oral 
presentations about their projects. 

All the students working on GASCAN 
projects were required to present their re- 
sults to professionals at MITRE. In addi- 
tion, small groups of students have pre- 
sented their work at NASA/University 
Advanced Space Design Conferences. 

The GASCAN and Advanced Space De- 
sign programs also seem to be producing a 
distinguished group of alumni, according 
to William Durgin. He notes that nearly 
all of the more than 300 students who have 
completed projects through these programs 
are now working in the aerospace field, 
completing military service in related ar- 
eas or attending graduate school. 

And, Durgin notes, the program has 
been an excellent tool for promoting co- 
operative research among faculty and stu- 
dents from diverse disciplines at WPI and 
has made the college more attractive for 
future faculty prospects. But, he says, the 
most enduring legacy of the space shuttle 
projects may be the many people at WPI 
and among its alumni who are now inter- 
ested in exploring the world beyond the 
Earth's atmosphere. 

"It was a marvelous foot in the door," 
he says. "And now, from that beginning, 
we have grown a whole new scholarly area 
at WPI. That's a real success story." 

Wpi Journal 


w Growing Crystals 
in .the Final Frontier 

In a few years, a WPI experiment will 

soar into space aboard a sophisticated 

NASA space laboratory 

/like many important stories in sci- 
ence, this one began in a small way, 
with two men, in a quiet moment, 
discussing an idea. 
Early one evening in 1983, Al- 
bert Sacco Jr., professor of chemical en- 
gineering, and the late Leonard B. Sand 
shared a pizza and a few beers in a restau- 
rant near the WPI campus. While a profes- 
sor of chemical engineering at WPI, Sand 
had established an international reputation 
for his pioneering work on a group of crys- 
talline compounds known as zeolites. On 
this evening he wanted to explore ways 
that he and Sacco could collaborate on sci- 

entific research. 

"I had worked extensively on regenera- 
tive life support systems for NASA before 
coming to WPI," Sacco says, "but Len 
wanted me to get involved with zeolites. 
We decided to find a way to combine zeo- 
lites with space research. What we came 
up with was a series of student projects 
aimed at growing large zeolite crystals in 

From that small beginning has grown 
one of the largest funded research pro- 
grams currently under way at WPI— a pro- 
gram that will produce a zeolite growth 
experiment that will fly aboard the first 

United States Microgravity Laboratory 
(USML 1), a sophisticated space workshop 
that will ride into orbit in the cargo bay of 
a space shuttle in the early 1990s. 

As a member of the Clarkson University 
Center for the Commercialization of Space 
and the Battelle Laboratories Center for 
the Commercial Development of Space, 
Sacco is working on the project with NASA 
and several chemical and aerospace cor- 
porations, as well as with Anthony G. 
Dixon, associate professor of chemical en- 
gineering, and Robert W Thompson, pro- 
fessor of chemical engineering. 

WPI is one of only two universities to 

10 Winter 1989 

have experiments approved for the mission 
to date, Sacco notes. 

"We have beaten out the competition, 
which includes some of the most presti- 
gious schools in the country," Sacco says. 
"We are at the top of our game." 

Zeolites are made primarily of alu- 
minum, silicon and oxygen. These 
elements combine to form a crystal- 
line structure that encloses a network of 
extremely uniform pores and channels. 
These pores make zeolites extremely se- 
lective sieves, separating, for example, the 
useful products of a chemical reaction from 
the raw materials and other by-products. 
When laced with other compounds, zeo- 
lites can make excellent catalysts and ion- 
exchangers. These properties have been 
employed in a wide variety of chemical 
processes, from cracking crude oil to soft- 
ening water to making nonalcoholic wine. 

While zeolites are found in nature, syn- 
thetic zeolites are preferred for most indus- 
trial applications because they can be cus- 
tom-made for specific applications. By 
controlling the composition, concentration 
and temperature of the solutions used as 
feed stock for zeolites, one can produce 
crystals with precise pore sizes or with 
specific chemical activity. 

But while scientists have been able to 
control some of the properties of zeolites, 
they have had less luck varying their size. 
The majority of the zeolite crystals pro- 
duced in the laboratory are small— about 
two thousandths of a millimeter in width 
or smaller. Much larger crystals, could 
they be produced, might open the door to 
a variety of new applications for zeolites, 
including the treatment of chemical and 
radioactive wastes and the purification of 
the highly valuable products of biotechnol- 
ogy operations. 

In fact, crystals hundreds of times larger 
than those commonly used by industry have 
been grown, but not in the laboratory and 
not by man. 

"Very large zeolite crystals have been 
found in ancient salt beds," Sacco says. 
"These crystals grew very slowly, sus- 
pended in these beds, for millions of 

Since scientists don't have the advantage 
of geologic time, they have had to cheat a 
bit, according to Thompson. To get crys- 
tals to grow in a reasonable amount of time 
in the laboratory, scientists employ highly- 
concentrated nutrient solutions. These 
supersaturated mixtures grow crystals 
readily, but there is a tradeoff. 

Because the nutrient solutions are so 

dense, crystal growth tends to begin simul- 
taneously at many points throughout the 
mixture. Before long, dozens of embry- 
onic crystals are developing, rapidly con- 
suming the dissolved chemicals. Com- 
pounding matters is the tendency of the 
zeolites to sink as they grow. As the crys- 
tals crowd together in the bottom of the 
reaction chamber, the nutrients are de- 
pleted and things grind to a halt before the 
crystals can grow to a respectable size. 

Various techniques have been employed 
to overcome the limits on zeolite growth. 
While some have achieved moderate suc- 
cess, all have ultimately run up against the 
inexorable force of gravity. Since gravity is 
the culprit, the obvious solution is to grow 
zeolites in the absence of gravity. But to 
do that, one has to travel into space. 

fin y a fortunate coincidence, as 
■K Sacco and Sand were mapping out 
■r their plans for a space-based re- 
search effort in zeolite growth, WPI's first 
Getaway Special Canister (GASCAN— see 
previous article) was just beginning to take 
shape. The two proposed their idea to the 
GASCAN technical steering committee and 
it became one of 12 experiments that would 
compete for space in the experimental 

Over the next three years, teams of WPI 
students, working on their major qualify- 

ing projects (MQPs), took the zeolite crys- 
tal growth experiment from conception to 
flight-ready hardware. When the GASCAN 
finally flies into orbit later this year, the 
zeolite experiment will be aboard. 

The design for the experiment is fairly 
simple. About two weeks prior to the shut- 
tle launch, a mixture of silica and alumina 
will be poured into two Teflon containers 
arranged inside an aluminum autoclave. 
The autoclave will be placed in the 
GASCAN just before it is loaded in the 
shuttle cargo bay. Once in orbit, the auto- 
clave will heat the mixture to a prescribed 
temperature and the growth of the zeolite 
crystals will begin. If all goes well, when 
the GASCAN is returned to Earth a few 
days later, the autoclave will be opened to 
reveal crystals of record size. 

That is the hope, at least. Sacco says the 
design of the GASCAN experiment has an 
important drawback which may limit the 
size of the crystals it grows. Because the 
growth solutions must be mixed on Earth, 
crystal growth will begin when the mixture 
is still under the influence of gravity and 
its deleterious effects. 

"This experiment is not perfect," Sacco 
says, "but the experience we gained from 
building it has given us a tremendous edge 
over other colleges in the design of hard- 
ware for crystal growth experiments in 

Robert W. Thompson, professor of chemical engineering, holds a vial containing a 
mixture of alumina and silica. From this mixture grow zeolites, crystals used in a 
number of industrial applications. Thompson is part of a WPI team that hopes to 
grow unusually large zeolites in Earth orbit. 

Wpi Journal 1 1 

In fact, when NASA began looking for 
universities to participate in a new Center 
for Commercial Crystal Growth in Space 
in 1985, WPI's experience persuaded the 
agency that the college should be a mem- 
ber. When the center, headquartered at 
New York's Clarkson University, was as- 
sembled in 1986, WPI was one of five 
universities to be included. The others are 
Clarkson, the University of Florida, Rens- 
selaer Polytechnic Institute and Alabama 
A&M University. Other participating or- 
ganizations include 13 engineering and 
chemical corporations and the National In- 
stitute of Standards and Technology. 

As a component of the new center, Sac- 
co's team has received substantial funding 
from NASA — funding which currently runs 
at more than a quarter million dollars an- 
nually and is projected to rise to nearly a 
half million dollars next year. With those 
funds, Sacco, Dixon and Thompson are 
preparing a new space-based zeolite growth 
experiment. The new experimental pack- 
age will be part of USML 1, a sophisti- 
cated array of experiments in basic and 
applied science that will fly in the cargo 
bay of the space shuttle. Similar in design 
to the Space Lab that has flown on previ- 
ous shuttle missions, USML 1 is billed as 
America's answer to a perceived European 
and Soviet lead in space research, particu- 
larly basic research in materials processing. 

"All of the science that goes into this 
project has to be A-number-1 top quality 
because we are putting this out as our best 
effort." Sacco says. "This mission has na- 
tional and international implications." 

The heart of the zeolite package for 
USML 1 will be a variable-temperature 
furnace in which up to 100 canisters filled 
with various zeolite growth mixtures will 
sit for several hours. To avoid the short- 
comings of the GASCAN experiment, as- 
tronauts will mix the growth solutions after 
the shuttle is in orbit. Between four and 
eight hours of astronaut time will be set 
aside for this task, Sacco says. 

Before the package can actually be con- 
structed, some tricky hurdles must be 
overcome. For example, how can an astro- 
naut "pour" zeolite solutions into 100 vi- 
als in the absence of gravity, and without 
any potentially dangerous spills, in the rel- 
atively short amount of time set aside for 
this job? Will the solutions mix properly 
in zero-gravity? And, how will the vibra- 
tions caused by the movement of astro- 
nauts—a phenomenon known as G-jitter — 
affect the growth of the crystals? 

One of the greatest challenges will be 
the design of the furnace. While the Soviet 

and European space agencies have flown 
temperature-controlled furnaces in space, 
the unit designed by the WPI team will be 
the first such unit ever carried on a U.S. 
space mission. The design of the device is 
the responsibility of Dixon. 

"The furnace will be made up of many 
small zeolite reactors packed into an insu- 
lated chamber and surrounded by heating 
coils," Dixon notes. "We'd like to develop 
a strategy where we can have precise tem- 
peratures in various areas of the furnace so 
each type of zeolite can grow under opti- 
mum conditions. We have to accomplish 
this with some very strict power 

Before a prototype of the furnace is ever 
built, Dixon will use a computer to create 
a model of the device. With the computer 
model, Dixon will determine how heat will 
be distributed through the chamber and will 
determine how to make the most efficient 
use of the furnace's heating coils. After a 
successful prototype is fabricated at WPI, 
the actual, flight-ready device will be built 
by an aerospace contractor such as Rock- 

well International Corp. Either the Battelle 
Laboratories Center for the Commercial 
Development of Space or the Clarkson 
Center will oversee the management of the 
WPI project, a task that includes filling 
out more than 40 pounds of NASA 

While designing the hardware for the ex- 
periment will pose some daunting chal- 
lenges, some fundamental questions must 
also be answered before the experiment can 
fly. For example, how will a three-phase 
solution behave in space? 

Most substances can exist in three dis- 
tinct phases— solid, liquid and gas. When 
zeolite growth solutions are mixed, they 
form a fourth phase called a gel, which is 
not quite a liquid, but also not quite a 
solid. As the crystals begin to form, there 
are three separate phases in the growth 
mixture— the clear liquid of the original 
solutions, the gel and the solid crystals 
themselves. Although its role is not en- 
tirely understood, gravity certainly helps 
determine what results from this three- 
phase system on Earth. The question that 

WPI's zeolite growth experiment will fly aboard USML 1, a space laboratory simi- 
lar to the European Space Agency's Space Lab, seen here in the cargo bay of a 
space shuttle. The lab will be launched in the early 1990s. 



Winter 1989 

Dixon, Thompson and Sacco must answer 
is what will happen without gravity? 

To do that one must first understand what 
really takes place as the zeolite growth so- 
lution performs its magic. Though scien- 
tists and engineers have been experiment- 
ing with zeolite growth for several decades, 
surprisingly little is known about what 
happens between the time the alumina and 
silica solutions are mixed and the moment 
the crystals appear, according to Dixon. 

In the months ahead, Dixon, Sacco and 
Thompson, leading teams of postdoctoral 
students, graduate students and undergrad- 
uates working on MQPs, will begin to 
study the fluid dynamics and chemistry of 
zeolite formation, answering questions that 
no one has needed to ask until now. The 
results of this work may, Dixon notes, have 
consequences far more profound than the 
growth of champion-sized crystals in 

"The need to go into space is providing 
the motivation to move away from the sort 
of black art we've practiced here on Earth, 
where people have poured, stirred and 

The WPI experiment will include the first temperature-controlled furnace to fly on 
a U.S. spacecraft. Anthony Dixon, associate professor of chemical engineering, is 
developing a computer model of the new furnace. 

heated," Dixon says. 

"They've had little reason to do other- 
wise because it's worked. Going into the 
environment of space has opened up a host 
of processing questions. We are taking the 
lead in answering them." 

"Even if we never grow a large zeolite 
crystal in space," Sacco adds, "we will not 
have failed." 

To find out more about what happens to 
zeolite solutions without gravity, prelimi- 
nary experiments will be conducted by 
Sacco aboard one of NASA's KC-135s, 
converted Boeing 707s that fly roller- 
coaster-like paths across the sky. On the 
downward portion of each parabolic arc, 
the plane and its contents experience about 
30 seconds of zero-G. Additional tests may 
be conducted in a drop tower at NASA's 
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, 
which can provide a few seconds of 

In addition to the basic research that will 
lay the foundation for the USML 1 exper- 
iment, the WPI team must design the flight 
hardware, supervise its construction, train 
the shuttle crew that will carry out the 
work in orbit and, in about three years, 
travel to NASA to monitor the progress of 
the experiment itself. For nine days, Sacco, 
Dixon and Thompson, working in eight- 
hour shifts, will man a console at the John- 
son Space Center in Houston while the 
shuttle orbits overhead. 

For the WPI team, the months now seem 
to stretch before them in a seemingly end- 

less series of timelines and milestones, 
Sacco notes. A missed deadline could eas- 
ily bump the WPI experiment from the 
USML 1 manifest. But, even though their 
efforts are currently focused on preparing 
for USML 1 , Sacco, Thompson and Dixon 
are already beginning to turn their thoughts 
to future work— to continuing the space- 
based study of zeolites after USML 1 re- 
turns to Earth. 

Already, the Boeing Company, which 
will design and build the material process- 
ing laboratory for the U.S. space station 
Freedom, has consulted Sacco's group 
about the requirements for conducting ze- 
olite growth research aboard the future 
space platform. That's a sign, Sacco says, 
of the long-term interest in this line of 
work on the part of NASA and U.S. indus- 
try. Sacco said both the European Space 
Agency and scientists from the Soviet Un- 
ion also have expressed an interest in their 

"The President's Commission on Space 
said that chemical engineers are one of the 
key groups that will be needed for the 
commercial development of space," Sacco 
notes, "because the exploitation of space 
will require new ways of processing natu- 
ral materials. I feel confident that zeolites 
will be one of the important materials that 
find a long-term home in space. If that 
happens, WPI will be right up there with 
the most active research groups in the U.S., 
thanks in large measure to that original 
vision of Len Sand." 

Wpi Journal 


The story of "K." Merriam 
and WPFs first aero program 

/■n May 1927, an obscure flyer 
I named Charles A. Lindbergh com- 
pleted the first solo flight across the 
Atlantic Ocean and brought the world 
into the Air Age. The implications of 
this milestone were clearly recognized by 
WPI's sixth president, Admiral Ralph 

At Earle's request, Kenneth G. Mer- 
riam, one of the youngest professors then 
at WPI, developed a program in aerome- 
chanics, which he would teach for more 
than three decades. Before accepting the 
assignment, Merriam set conditions which 
remained throughout the life of the pro- 
gram. It was to be taught as a senior me- 
chanical engineering option with admis- 

sion limited to top students. 

To Merriam 's surprise, Earle agreed to 
his conditions. The first class began in 
1928, a year after Lindbergh's flight. 

With the inauguration of the aero pro- 
gram, Merriam was promoted to assistant 
professor. Then, signifying the expecta- 
tions President Earle had for the program, 
he named Merriam to the newly estab- 
lished Elmer P. Howe Distinguished Pro- 
fessorship. This was only the second fac- 
ulty chair at WPI, the first having been 
established in 1915 by Prof. John E. Sin- 
clair. At the end of his career, Merriam 
would enjoy the unique distinction of be- 
coming the only WPI professor both to 
hold an endowed chair and have one named 

in his own honor. 

Merriam was born and raised in Belfast, 
Maine. When he graduated from MIT in 
1922, he accepted an instructorship at the 
University of Maine, but left to join the 
mechanical engineering faculty of WPI just 
a year later. This was the beginning of a 
46 -year career for a man regarded by many 
former students as one of their greatest 

Merriam described himself as a demand- 
ing teacher, though this quality would not 
have distinguished him from most of his 
colleagues. What endeared him to his stu- 
dents was his concern for them and the 
family spirit he developed with students in 
the aero program. In the early years, he 

14 Winter 1989 

and the new class of "Aeros" would start 
the year with a climb up Mount Monad- 
nock in New Hampshire. After World War 
II, the tradition was changed to a less 
strenuous evening at the Boston Pops. 

The class met on the top floor of the 
Washburn Shops, which Merriam had con- 
verted to a combination classroom and lab- 
oratory. Prominently located in the middle 
of the floor was a full-sized, fabric-covered 
U.S. Navy monoplane with a 52-foot 
wingspan. (Getting the plane into the 
building had proved no mean feat.) 

Here and there were aircraft engines, 
some working and some cut-away speci- 
mens. The walls were decorated with pro- 
pellers and photographs of vintage airplanes 
and early aero classes. The laboratory 
included WPI's first wind tunnel (devel- 
oped by Merriam's students), in which 
Merriam himself did pioneering work on 
Pitot tubes— used to measure the speed of 

Each student was required to conduct 
research on some aspect of aeromechanics 
and prepare a thesis, even after the thesis 
requirements had been dropped for other 
WPI seniors. During the 1930s, there was 
a special realism to the program as stu- 
dents enjoyed hands-on experience with 
aircraft at the Grafton Airport, where Mer- 
riam had developed a close relationship 
with the staff. During this period, many 
students earned their pilot's licenses at the 
airfield, which served Worcester until the 
present city airport was constructed at the 
end of World WarU. 

In those early days, the young, red-haired 
professor was often referred to by his stu- 
dents as "Pinky." With more maturity, he 
became known by the nickname "K.G." In 
the latter years of his teaching career, fac- 
ulty colleagues and students alike knew 
him simply as "K." 

K. Merriam, who was commissioned as 
an officer in the Army Reserve at gradua- 
tion from MIT, was called to active service 
during World War II. His specialty was 
anti-aircraft artillery and by war's end he 
was director of fire control for all anti- 
aircraft weapons. He was discharged in 
1946 with the rank of colonel. 

During the war years, the aero program 
continued under the direction of Frank 
Finlayson '31, one of the program's first 
graduates. Finlayson and several other fac- 
ulty members shared the teaching load with 
Merriam through the years. 

The aeromechanics option, which began 
with the birth of the Air Age, ended as the 
Space Age dawned. The last aero class 
graduated in 1959, less than two years af- 

ter the Soviet Union launched the world's 
first satellite, Sputnik I, and a little over a 
year after the U.S. sent its first satellite, 
Explorer I, into orbit. 

Merriam received the Trustees' Award 
for Outstanding Teaching in 1961. Three 
years later, WPI conferred on him an hon- 
orary Doctor of Engineering degree. 

After he retired in 1969, Merriam do- 
nated to the WPI archives the scrapbooks 
in which he had carefully chronicled the 
aero program. Reading through these hun- 
dreds of pages shows why he was so spe- 
cial to his students. Included are the an- 
nual letters he sent to graduates apprising 
them of the status of the program and of 
the professional progress of each alumnus. 

His snapshots of students in the lab and 
at Grafton Airport form a pictorial record 
of the program. A note on one page men- 
tions that cigarette smoking was not per- 
mitted in the lab, it being a fire hazard. 
Yet pipe-smoking students appear in many 
pictures. Merriam himself was a con- 
firmed pipe smoker. There are also photos 
of the gliders Merriam and his students 
built, licensed and flew in the early days 
of the program. 

The scrapbooks include copies of corre- 
spondence with Robert Goddard '08, in- 
dicating a mutual respect for each other's 
work. Goddard, for example, asked Mer- 
riam to supervise the work of one of his 
graduate students at Clark University while 
Goddard was conducting research in New 
Mexico. When he was in Worcester, God- 
dard was a frequent visitor to the top floor 

of Washburn Shops. 

Merriam also proudly included in these 
pages newspaper clippings that chronicled 
the careers of aero alumni. They tell, for 
example, of Arthur Smith '33, Richard 
Whitcomb '43 and other aviation pioneers 
(see sidebar). But Merriam was just as 
proud of each of his other graduates. 

In one of the scrapbook's last pages, 
Merriam summarized the aero program 
through its 30 years. He personally taught 
244 students in 27 classes. Of these, 40 
percent graduated with distinction. He 
noted, for example, that according to the 
1963 issue of the Alumni Directory, half 
of his Class of 1929 students were working 
in the field of aviation. 

At Reunion in 1977, WPI President 
George Hazzard announced that one of 
Merriam's former students had established 
an endowed professorship in his name in 
grateful recognition of the inspiration he 
had given to his students throughout his 46 
years on the WPI faculty. 

A few months later, Merriam was invited 
to a ceremony in Higgins Laboratories at 
which the first Kenneth G. Merriam Dis- 
tinguished Professor was announced. Mer- 
riam was especially pleased with the selec- 
tion of Raymond R. Hagglund '56, who 
had been both his student and faculty col- 

Four days later, Merriam died suddenly 
at the age of 75 . 

Perry is editor of Quest, a periodical re- 
porting on the Campaign for Excellence. 


The late Kenneth G. Merriam (left) and some of his early "Aeros." 

Wpi Journal 15 

An Honor Roll of Aeronautics Pioneers 

Some of the most important advances in 
modern aviation were forged by WPI graduates. 

JBB|obert Goddard '08 may be the 

most famous aerospace pioneer to 

B have graduated from WPI, but he 

is certainly not the only one. Here are 

some other WPI alumni who changed the 

face of aviation: 

Arthur Nutt '16, one of the greatest 
authorities on aircraft engines in his day, 
developed the first successful engine to 
produce 350 horsepower. He was later able 
to more than double the power of Wright 
Aeronautical Corporation engines without 
increasing their weight. In the 1950s, at 
the Lycoming Division of AVCO, he over- 
saw the production of Wright's Cyclone 
engines, which powered 90 percent of 
commercial aircraft of the day. In 1978 he 
was inducted into the Aviation Pioneers 
Hall of Fame. 

An early graduate of WPI's aero option, 
Arthur E. Smith '33 spent most of his 
career at United Aircraft (which later be- 
came United Technologies), becoming its 
president in 1968 and chairman in 1972. 
As an engineer at United Aircraft, he did 
pioneering work on the use of water injec- 
tion to increase the power of aircraft en- 
gines, work that contributed to the success 
of U.S. aircraft during World War U. Smith 
later played an important role in United 
Aircraft's transition into the Jet Age. 

Another of Kenneth Merriam's students, 
Eugene Larrabee '42, conducted pioneer- 
ing research on low-speed aerodynamics at 
MIT. The work played a direct role in the 
successes of the series of human-powered 
Gossamer aircraft designed by Paul Mc- 
Cready, who holds an honorary doctorate 
from WPI. 

Another of WPI's distinguished gradu- 
ates, Richard T. Whitcomb '43, also 
studied under Kenneth Merriam. After re- 
ceiving his B.S. degree, Whitcomb joined 
the National Advisory Committee for Aer- 
onautics (which later became NASA). 
Working in the transonic wind tunnel at 
the Langley Research Center in Virginia, 
Whitcomb set out to learn why airplanes 
experienced more drag than conventional 
theory predicted they should when flying 
at transonic speeds (speeds greater than the 
speed of sound). 

In December 1951, while puzzling over 
photos taken of models in the wind tunnel, 

Arthur E. Smith '33 (above), former 
chairman of United Aircraft, and 
Richard T. Whitcomb '43 (right), who 
discovered the Area Rule. 

he made an important discovery, which he 
called the Area Rule. Drag at high speeds, 
the rule says, is a function of an airplane's 
total cross-sectional area (essentially the 
thickness of the fuselage). Because projec- 
tions from the fuselage increase cross- 
sectional area, Whitcomb reasoned, nar- 
rowing the fuselage at the point where the 
wings and tail assembly attach should re- 
duce both cross-sectional area and drag. 

He tested a model with a pinched-waist 
design and found that it behaved exactly as 
he had predicted. The model is now in the 
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Mu- 
seum. The idea was soon tested on a full- 
sized airplane, the Convair YF-102, a new 
delta-winged jet fighter that had not per- 
formed well at transonic speeds. The plane 
was lengthened and given the now-famous 
"Coke-bottle" fuselage. It "slipped right 
past the sound barrier and kept on going," 
its test pilot reported. 

In the 1960s, Whitcomb developed the 

supercritical wing for NASA. With a 
blunted leading edge, a flattened top and a 
trailing edge that curved downward, the 
wing delayed the onset of shock waves that 
normally appear on the upper portion of 
the wings of aircraft flying near the speed 
of sound. The wing allowed commercial 
jetliners to fly faster and more efficiently. 
Whitcomb's achievements, widely re- 
garded as among the most important in the 
history of modern aeronautics, have earned 
him numerous honors, including the Col- 
lier Trophy, aviation's highest award, be- 
stowed in 1954 in honor of his develop- 
ment of the Area Rule. 

—Michael Dorsey 

Winter 1989 

Ode to t he '80s 

A Limerick Contest for Our Readers 

How permissive we are in the Eighties! 

And how free are the gents and the ladies! 

But how can we be sure 

If our hearts are not pure 

That we won't end our journey in Hades. 

—Isaac Asimov 

Isaac Asimov's limerick sets the pace 
for our contest. Light verse is a source 
of pleasure for the renowned writer of 
science fiction and science fact. Of his 
405 books, "seven are of limericks— and 
two of those are clean," he notes. 

As we turn the corner to the next 
decade, how would you capture— in five 

lines— the mood of the past 10 years? For 
each limerick we publish in the August 
issue, we'll pay $100. The grand prize 
winner will also receive a framed copy 
of the winning limerick and the original 
artwork illustrating it. Please send your 
entry by May 1 to the magazine editor. 
Questions? Call (301) 338-7904. 

February 1989 

The Smart Assembl 

To compete in the 
world marketplace, 
American indus- 
tries will use high- 
tech sensors to find 
and correct product 
flaws— before it's 
too late. 

By Sue De Pasquale 

Ultrasonic weld testers 
help workers on automo- 
bile assembly lines to in- 
crease speed and reduce 
scrap. The CRT screen dis- 
plays the results in wave 
forms that they can easily 

r ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss\ 

By the time a can of salmon 
finds its way to your super- 
market shelf, it has prob- 
ably traveled thousands of 
miles. The cans are usually 
made in a Southern plant, flattened, and 
then sent to the Alaskan Northwest, 
where they are re-formed, filled with 

freshly caught fish, sealed, and shipped 
off. Since the tiniest leak would allow air 
to enter, with the potential of causing 
botulism, the salmon packer needs a fast, 
efficient method to test if every can is 

One new test is so precise that it could 
virtually eliminate the possibility of a 

"leaker" finding its way to your shelf. 
The package is placed in a sealed test 
chamber, and a minute amount of pres- 
sure (less than you could blow with your 
mouth) is applied externally to its lid, 
causing it to deflect inward. If there's a 
leak, air will gradually seep in and the lid 
will relax back to its original position. If 


Alumni Magazine Consortium 



the package is airtight, the lid will remain 
slightly concave. 

Since the typical lid moves less than a 
thousandth of a millimeter, the contents 
aren't affected by the test at all, explains 
James Wagner, the Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity materials scientist who developed 
the technique. To do so, he drew on 

advances in nondestructive evaluation 
(NDE), a way of testing without taking 
things apart. 

Wagner shines a laser beam on the test 
object and creates an image that passes 
through a holographic filter. The light 
leaving the filter dims as the lid deflects 
in, and grows brighter when the lid 

relaxes. By measuring the time between 
dimming and brightening, he can deter- 
mine the magnitude of the leak: two 
seconds for a bad leak, a full minute for 
a very small one. 

Campbell's Soup officials have al- 
ready asked about using the process, 
Wagner says. In addition to testing cans, 
the technique can be used to find the 
most minuscule leaks in pacemakers and 
microelectronic circuits— and even the 
space station. (See page VI for how the 
laser works.) 

Wagner explains the nature of NDE 
testing by picking up the flexible name- 
plate on his desk. "You could put this in 
a jig and break it to find out where it is 
weakest," he says, bending the piece of 
plastic back and forth. "Or you could 
bend it until it's about to break to find 
out. But both times, you'd destroy or 
damage the material," and that's exactly 
what the researcher for Hopkins's Center 
for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE) 
hopes to avoid. 

Instead, he and colleagues in the emerg- 
ing field of NDE rely on noncontact 
advanced sensors— which use lasers, mag- 
netic fields, and ultrasound techniques, 
among others— to examine and charac- 
terize materials without touching them 
or breaking them down. Installing these 
advanced sensors on American produc- 
tion lines could transform manufacturing 
by cutting labor and production costs and 
by improving quality, advocates say. 

During the late 1960s and '70s, non- 
contact methods like X-rays and lasers 
were used mostly to locate flaws in 
structures after they were in use. "The 
emphasis of NDE in the past has been life 
management," explains Wagner. "How 
much longer can a bridge last? How 
much longer can a plane fly? How much 
longer will the rubber last on tires?" 

Today the push is toward characteriz- 
ing the materials themselves— the mo- 
lecular make-up of a polymer fiber or the 
internal temperature of an ingot of steel— 
at each stage of production. That allows 
manufacturers to predict, and ideally, to 
correct, missteps on the assembly line 
before large batches of flawed materials 
get by. 

In effect, NDE technology is making 
it possible to test the manufacturing proc- 

February 1989 III 

ess itself, rather than simply the product, 
explains Yoh-Han Pao, director of the 
Center for Intelligent Systems at Case 
Western Reserve University. 

Since the early 1980s, many NDE 
techniques have made the transition from 
the research lab to the industrial test site. 
Makers of computer disk drives rely on 
images created by laser holography to see 
how drives change shape as they run and 
heat up. Naval contractors can predict the 
strength of rope by examining its elec- 
trons through a technique called para- 
magnetic resonance imaging. Quality con- 
trollers use ultrasonic imaging to check 
for defects in nuclear reactor fuel rods. 

"Since the sensors examine things from 
a distance, NDE techniques are particu- 
larly well-suited for components that are 
small and fragile— as in microelectron- 
ics—and for testing objects in hostile 
environments with temperatures of a few 
thousand degrees," explains Ryzard 
Pryputniewicz, director of the Center for 
Holographic Studies and Laser Technol- 
ogy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

Traditionally, quality control testing 
has been done manually (and often, de- 
structively) at the end of the manufactur- 
ing process to separate acceptable prod- 
ucts from unacceptable ones. "You could 
test every 20th product coming out and 
reject the ones that weren't good. That 
allowed bad products to get by," Wagner 
explains. "If you don't test every product 
coming out, there is statistical room for 
error. That's not O.K. for space shuttles, 
and aircraft, and heart valves." 

There's also a financial interest at 
stake, since problems aren't discovered 
until large amounts of time, energy, and 
money have already been invested. If a 
sample of steel is found to have the 
wrong consistency, the whole batch has 
to be scrapped. If a weld on an automo- 
bile fender is defective, it has to be 
ground out and redone. 

In today's high-tech indu